Romanticizing sexual violence is 50 Shades of Bullshit

Carrie JordanShamanism, Womens Wisdom

Poster from the movie

How we relate sexually is deeply connected to our groundedness, and our sense of self-worth. When our sexual lives are not in alignment, it deeply affects the ways that we view ourselves in other aspects of our lives.

I have never read or watched 50 Shades of Gray because I find the idea of it repulsive, however I’ve heard a lot about it and read about it. I know enough to know that this mainstream movie is romanticizing domestic abuse and normalizing disrespectful behavior toward women.

It has me realize that I live in a culture that does not view sex as a sacred act. It’s a culture that gives lip-service to stopping sexual harassment and sexual assault, but the actions (publishing media that normalizes and romanticizes sexual violence) don’t align with those words.

We don’t know much about coming to the altar naked and unashamed, closely personal, without drugs and props…When we are involved in fantasy, our chakras or energy centers do not connect.

We must somehow have the nerve to come together and actually face each other, being ourselves and encountering the sacred other without a mask, opening our hearts, and showing our true self.

–Vicki Noble, author of Shakti Woman

Having a healthy attitude toward sexuality can be challenging in a society like ours: Rape is often portrayed as or perceived as sexual; We constantly see images and advertising that use the female body to sell products; Research has shown that men who watch rape on the screen are desensitized to the fact that this act involves female suffering; The rise of rape has kept up since women have become more liberated since the late 1960s; Women all over the world are scared to walk alone, especially with male footsteps behind her.

People are free do whatever they want in the bedroom. What I have a problem with is the marketing violence in sex as something romantic on Valentine’s day. It doesn’t get much more manipulative than that. (see this tumblr compilation of the most abusive quotes from the book)

Domestic abuse activists felt that the book’s character Christian Grey is often “extremely controlling, possessive, and forceful.” You can find out more and donate here.

It’s unacceptable to normalize or romanticize this type of behavior on the big screen. Men and women have a sacred responsibility to stand for viewing sex and intimacy as a sacred act. We have a responsibility to compassionately hold our younger sisters and brothers in their naiveté because they may have learned about sex from other sources. For example, pornography has a hugely negative affect on how young people view sexuality, and yet this is how many young ones learn about sex.

“When an adolescent boy compulsively views pornography, his brain chemistry can become shaped around the attitudes and situations that he is watching” (Psychology Today).

As an often shameful shadow aspect, sex has become taboo. As we start to talk about sex more openly and normalize sex as sacred and natural, attitudes in the larger culture will begin to shift.