It should come as no surprise from my oh-so-original headline that I’m going to discuss the bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey.
For those who don’t know, Fifty Shades of Grey is an erotic romance novel by British author E.L. James that follows the developing relationship between Anastasia Steele, a college graduate, and Christian Grey, a young business mogul.
It seems the major claim people make is that this book is romanticizing rape and abuse, which in turn is projecting the view that abuse is OK. I would hope the people making these accusations have taken the time to read and are not coming from a place of ignorance.
I’m in no way trying to be insensitive about sexual abuse. It is never OK to force yourself onto another person without their consent, which brings up my view into the popular claim of romanticizing rape and abuse. The novel, even with the incorporation of BDSM (bondage, dominance, submission, masochism), is in no way encouraging sexual abuse or rape.
I’ve chosen to focus on one major word: No. In any situation where rape is accused, the first thing asked is “Did the victim give any kind of consent?”
Those who are claiming that Fifty Shades of Grey romanticizes rape are unaware of the extensive time the author spent on detailing each part of the “contract” throughout many chapters. The contract is actually printed in the book, not just spoken about, so it is clear that any sort of agreement between the two parties is informed consent.
These contracts thoroughly state everything that is expected of Ms. Steele. No stone is left unturned.
And, spoiler alert, she verbally agrees to everything. She herself, all-knowingly and all-willingly says yes to this proposal. No one forced her to commit to this type of sexual lifestyle with Christian Grey. In addition to verbal consent, the contract created by Christian Grey is solely for the purpose of protecting the rights of both parties through “hard limits.” The book even goes into a thorough conversation between Anastasia and Christian on how the contract cannot be legally upheld, and she is free to leave and say no at any point.
The two parties also have a safe word; a safe word that exists so, if at anytime she is uncomfortable or in pain, she can say the word and he will stop without question. Therefore, it in no way glorifies or romanticizes rape in any context. In the book, Anastasia doesn’t use the safe word, despite the constant reminder from Christian of the word’s power and existence, all before any contact.
So call me crazy, but I’m still blind to why people are saying this is romanticizing abuse when she willingly agreed to all of the details getting her into this BDSM relationship.