Trigger warning: This post deals with violence against women. Some readers may it triggering.
This film, based on one of the world’s biggest selling books is going to be seen by young women (and men) across the globe – so we need to ask: isn’t this just a blow-by-blow of an abusive relationship? Is it less an erotic story and more a stalker’s handbook?
Some domestic violence advocates have started a campaign to boycott the film, #50dollarsNot50Shades, asking people to donate $50 to a domestic violence shelter rather than going to the movie.
On her blog, Emma Tofi has listed 50 moments in the Fifty Shades books that constitute abuse, stalking, manipulation, intimidation and rape. It’s a long list (which tells you something in itself), but we’ve extracted just ten of those moments.
Watch the Mamamia staff reveal the moments they knew it was time to leave their partners (post continues after video).
I’m so tired of being told that there’s no abuse in Fifty Shades of Grey, that I’ve decided to compile something of a list. A list of fifty abusive moments, to be precise.
Think there can’t possibly be fifty examples of abuse in the biggest-selling “romance” novel of all time? Think again… [Note: we’ve extracted just ten of those moments here. You can read the rest on Emma’s blog]
1. Christian Grey is a stalker.
In chapter two of the first novel in the trilogy (that’s right, chapter two – EL James is nothing if not quick off the mark with her abuse-as-love shtick), Christian turns up at Ana’s workplace. He claims that he happened to be “in the area.” He tells her that he was visiting the local university, but there’s no explanation as to why, when he lives in a city which would undoubtedly have its own hardware stores, he felt the need to visit the store where Ana just happens to work. I don’t buy it for a second and knowing what’s to come throughout the trilogy, I know that this is just the first example of Christian’s stalker-like behaviour (spoiler: He admits to stalking her and finding out her workplace in book 2).
The text makes it obvious that he has turned up there deliberately to see Ana, through EL James’ clumsy use of Ana’s internal monologue, as she ponders the fact that he can’t possibly have wanted to see her and gone out of his way to do so. So we can be sure that that’s exactly what he did. He found out where she worked and turned up unannounced. Maybe we’re meant to think this is sexy. I think it’s creepy.
2. He immediately becomes possessive of Ana – before they’re even a couple.
Brace yourselves everyone, because we’re still only on chapter two at this point. After just so happening to turn up at Ana’s workplace, three hours’ drive away from where he actually lives, Christian engages in some rather stilted and incredibly obvious flirting with the hapless Ana. Then, whilst Ana is scanning the items Christian wants to purchase at the till, one of her male friends comes over.
Christian watches this friend interact with Ana and his whole demeanour changes. Even though Christian’s little more than a stranger to Ana, he makes it obvious that he’s deeply unhappy at the fact that she’s talking to another man. Ana is left confused by his sudden and complete change of character, asking herself: “Damn… Have I offended him?” No, Ana. But this is probably a sign that you should run very fast in the opposite direction from this utter control freak.
3. He warns her away.
Look, I know I’m repeating myself, because lord knows, if you scroll through my blogs from last year, you’ll find loads about Fifty Shades and why I hate it so very much, but this right here? This is a biggie. Abusers often do this; they tell the person they’ve zoned in on that he/she ought to stay away from them, because they’re “dangerous” or “bad for you.”
Again, it’s manipulation, designed to ensure the person does no such thing, because they’re far too intrigued and/or aroused by the abuser. My own abusive ex gave me a warning similar to the one Christian gives Ana and it worked on me; I stuck around. And of course, when things got bad, I blamed myself for not heeding his warnings, rather than blaming him for his behaviour. Heads up to those who’ve note read Fifty Shades? Ana does the exact same thing.
4. He stalks her a second time.
In chapter four, Ana and her friends go out drinking, to celebrate having finished college. After receiving expensive gifts from Christian (in spite of him warning her to stay away from him; see how he’s deliberately confusing her?!), Ana decides to drunk-dial him from the club. Christian demands that she tells him where she is. Ana refuses and hangs up. Christian calls her back to say he’s coming to get her.
So, let’s break it down: Ana has told him she doesn’t want to say where she is. He’s told her he’s coming to get her. And he does. He openly admits to tracing her mobile phone in order to determine her whereabouts. That, my friends, is called stalking. It’s illegal, it’s a form of abuse and it’s definitely, definitely not sexy or romantic behaviour.
5. Isolating her from family and friends.
Later on in chapter six, Ana and Christian begin to discuss the idea of a sexual relationship. Christian – laughably, if you ask me – tells Ana that before the two of them can get down and dirty, she has to sign a non-disclosure agreement. i.e. She has to agree not to speak to anyone about what happens between them. Handy little way of ensuring that Ana has nobody to open up to about her concerns…
6. Creepy, possessive tendencies…
Once the sex has happened, Christian no longer makes any effort to hide his possessive nature. During their second sexual encounter of the evening, he tells Ana: “Every time you move tomorrow, I want you to be reminded that I’ve been here. Only me. You are mine.” Um, Christian? She belongs to herself. And you are a dick.
7. Possession (again).
In chapter 10, moments after meeting Christian’s mother, Ana receives a phone call from her friend Jose. Bear in mind that Ana has no control over who calls her at any given time, yet when she returns from taking the call, Christian is demonstrably angry that she has been talking to another man. This behaviour is so unhealthy, I know incredibly skilled doctors who wouldn’t be able to save it. Christian has literally no right to be angry that she spoke to another human who just happens to have a penis.
But he is. Because he’s an abusive waste of printer ink. When Ana tells Christian that she wants to make a phone call, he automatically assumes it’s to Jose (she actually wants to call Kate) and tells her: “I don’t like to share, Miss Steele, remember that.” This prompts Ana to wonder “what happened to the generous, relaxed, smiling man who was making love to me not half an hour ago?” Well, Ana, he got what he wanted from you and now he’s showing his true colours. RUN.
Christian turns up uninvited. He proceeds to try to seduce Ana, given that that’s pretty much all he ever does. Ana tells him that she doesn’t want sex and would rather talk. “‘No,’ I protest, kicking him off.” But this is Christian Grey. The abusive scum bucket who only considers his own desires. So, upon hearing the woman he claims to care for saying a very definite “no” to sex, he replies with these words: “If you struggle, I’ll tie your feet, too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you. Keep quiet. Katherine is probably outside listening, right now.”
He then proceeds to have sex with her, in spite of her trying to kick him away and saying “no.” I don’t understand how people aren’t getting that this is at the very least sexual assault, but apparently, because EL James writes that Ana enjoys the sex that Christian forced on her, we’re meant to ignore the fact that she asked him to stop and he didn’t. I don’t even know how anyone can happily defend that scene, but I promise you, I’ve had plenty of Fifty Shades fans try.
9. Attempting to control her life – yep, he’s still doing it.
Ana and Christian go to meet his parents, shortly after he confesses that he’d have liked to have actually hurt her, had he seen her after she committed the heinous crime of forgetting to call him. Whilst there, Ana announces that she’s thinking of going to visit her mother. Christian suggests that she ought to remember their “arrangement,” but when Ana reminds him that she has never signed a contract, agreeing to be a 24/7 submissive to him, he reacts by yet again grabbing her by the elbow and telling her “this conversation is not over.” And to add insult to injury, he’s described as whispering that sentence “threateningly.” Newsflash, Christian: It’s her decision whether she sees her mother.
You have no control over whether she goes to visit her relatives or not. You are a total psychopath and it’s about as sexy as pubic lice. A little later, during dinner with Christian’s parents, Ana’s friend Kate asks Ana how Jose was when she went out for a drink with him. Ana hasn’t told Christian that she went out with Jose, because keeping secrets from your partner because you’re scared of how they’ll react is SUPER HEALTHY and Christian reacts to this news by whispering in a “quiet and deadly” tone that he is “palm-twitchingly mad.” Plain speak? He wants to hit her in order to hurt her. Because she saw a male friend. THIS MAN IS NOT A ROMANTIC HERO, HE IS A DISGUSTING, ABUSIVE BULLY. WHY, WHY, WHY FOR THE LOVE OF MATT SMITH ARE PEOPLE FAWNING OVER THIS DICKHEAD?????!!!! Aaaand breathe.
10. Actual physical assault.
In the final chapter of the first book, Ana does what she has spent the entire novel avoiding; she tells Christian that she’s really, really not up for being punished. Christian, like all abusive arseholes, responds by manipulating her, reminding her that she apparently told him in her sleep that she would never leave him. Ana then feels compelled to stick around and she asks him to show her how painful things could get. He proceeds to hit her – hard – with a belt, six times. Ana is rendered speechless by the pain and doesn’t use her safe word.
She is counting the blows and her voice is described as “a strangled sob,” so I think it’s pretty fine for us to assume that she sounds upset. Christian doesn’t stop to ask if she’s okay, like a reliable Dom hopefully would, knowing that this is the first time she has experienced actual pain during a session. Instead, he keeps on hitting her, whilst Ana cries. Afterwards, Ana leaves. And if the book had ended that way, or even gone on to detail Ana’s recovery from their abusive relationship, I might not have such a massive problem with it.
If you’d like to boycott 50 Shades and/or would like to donate money to an organisation that supports women escaping violence, you can consider donating to the NSW Rape Crisis Centre here. If you’d rather donate household goods, clothing, non-perishable food or toys, contact Assist-A-Sista here.
If this post raises issues for you, please phone 1800RESPECT or visit their website here.
This post originally appeared on The Rambling Curl and was republished here with full permission.
What do you think? Will you be boycotting Fifty Shades?