When I first saw the title 50 Shades of Grey I thought it was book about being 50. Then I heard about “the book” and assumed it was about sex life after 50. I will admit I have not seen the movie. I had previously decided not to read the book when it was first published. (To be honest, I just couldn’t when I learned it made someone in their 60’s the hottest they had ever felt.) I understand fantasy, I know it takes a lot to keep the spark going. I like a smutty romance as much as I enjoy a book about snipers. Seriously, my reading taste is eclectic and varied. I’m generally not a prude when it comes to literature.
Finally, I downloaded the book to see what all the fuss was about. In all honestly, with all the winter storms I’ve been stuck in the house with my children. I needed an escape. Imagine my surprise when the heroine is 21 years old, still in college. She “falls in love” with an older (but not much older) man and the games begin. In all honesty the “play room” such as it is doesn’t bother me. What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their life is between the two of them. If a 22 year old wants to date Hugh Hefner so be it. If an adult reads a book and is entertained, escapes the images of this freaking winter from hell more power to them.
Yet I am the mother of two small daughters. As I read my concern grew regarding the ultimate submission of the heroine and that it is being hailed as liberating.
That is where I have the problem as it relates to my own daughter. This book (and now movie) is being triumphed as “wonderful” and “provoking” and “best romance” and “saving marriages”. While the target audience is for women over 25, in reality the moviegoers are a mix from teen to retiree. In America it is rated R, meaning anyone who looks under 17 just needs someone with them that looks over 21. Have you seen child in high school lately? They all look over 18!
This movie where a young woman loses her virginity and her identity to the male hero, will be seen by potentially thousands of teenagers. Boys and girls who will think this is what love is, that love means giving over your power and doing whatever the man in your life tells you to do, what to wear and who to associate with.
I remember my awkward teen years. I remember how easy it is to be swayed by that first love and forgetting your friends, your parents to be with HIM. I also am not so old that I remember what happens when that first love disappears. Yet now, should that first love be a “Grey” that second love could be more even more traumatic. Or worse, this young girl might not recover when he has moved on. We have all seen the statistics of serial abusers and those who are serially abused.
First love is the training ground for the love that will come later. When she is 30 and allowed to date, I do not want my daughter’s first love be one that controls her every move or one that teaches her that she has no power to control her own destiny. I want that love to embrace all she holds dear instead of isolating her. To show her that she can be more, alongside and equal to her love. Beside and not beneath him. I don’t want my child to ignore her friend’s warning that the boy might be dangerous. I want her to hear the word “stalker” in her brain and run the other direction. I don’t ever want her to believe that no means yes or that a “safe” word will always be honored.
I’m told that in the third book all is revealed as to why the hero of the story is flawed. Frankly I do not care. Flawed is not the word I would use for stalker, abuse, beating and isolation. Usually people go to jail for those crimes. That the heroine is 21 and consenting, I understand to a degree.
I just do not want that 21 year old to be my heroine, the little girl I have tried to nurtured and loved since birth.
Maturity allows you to read a book or see a movie as a fantasy,nothing more. I can read this book and think, wow. But as the mother of a young girl I am also concerned by it’s mainstream popularity. I don’t want hordes of teenage girls watching this movie over their February vacation and thinking this is okay. That they are “saving” that boy or that boy loves her and is showing her how she should be treated. Naively, I want them to fall in love with a Kristoff not Christian.
Some movies change your life. I really do not want this one to change my child’s or yours.