It’s been a while and I’ve had a lot to say. I spend most of my day saying a lot and most of what I say, I also want to write, but then life happens and I don’t get a chance, or I forget, or I write it somewhere else, or some new idea comes along that feels more important and then it’s the next day and I’ve forgotten both.
Yesterday, however, I had a thought that I haven’t forgotten and I definitely want to share.
I feel, in some ways, almost embarrassed, or ashamed, or silly, and definitely regretful to admit that I contributed to what I presume to be an exorbitant amount of money spent on the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. Last night, in an attempt to stay social and connect with my friends I agreed to subject myself to one of the most disconnecting experiences. The only way I feel I can rectify the time I wasted is to take this experience and shed light for whomever reads this on my take of Hollywood’s latest masochistic experiment.
Being an American female teenager of this century, I have had the pleasure of reaping the benefits of modern medicine, technology, education, and society, as a whole. In so many ways, I have been so blessed and I am eternally grateful. Conversely, although I have never woken up to shots being heard, nor have I seen a day come where my family could not provide for me, I have known profound hunger and I feel like I fight a very different war as a product of the era in which I have been raised and live.
As a female teenager in America, I find myself bound to these travesties, not as a result of a lack of resources, but rather one of the bountiful provisions offered to me. I am not robbed of my food by the inability to eat or by a lack in finances, but instead by a disorder that has manifested and exponentially expanded among society, in large part, due to the messages sent by the media to the world on what a man or a woman should look like, what we, as people, should and should not eat, and, ultimately what doing the opposite says about us, as human beings. I do not fear being caught in the middle of a battlefield, yet I worry that my actions may lead an unsuspecting stranger to take advantage of me each time I get dressed up to go out with my friends in a world where rape culture is so prominent. I have never come across a person my age who was drafted to war or murdered ruthlessly, but I have sat next to hundreds of women who have destroyed themselves, and I have heard the cries of so many who have been subjected to sexual violence.
When I watched Fifty Shades of Grey, I could not see it as anything more than a horrible exploitation of a woman, regardless of the fictionalized components to it, and it took deep breaths to stay in my seat. What kept me most paralyzed, however, was the rooted fear of what others might see- that others might see. I am afraid for the extraordinarily vulnerable youth who will inevitably watch this production and be highly susceptible to taking the messages that sexual violence is okay, or worse, normal, which Anastasia and Christian promote. I’m terrified that people will watch this and enjoy it as a film, not aware of the horrible implications this has for women, at large- that we are to submit under male dominance, that we are to not only accept punishment for our humanity, but also enjoy it. And, furthermore, I am appalled that the film clearly had enough of a calling among the industry to create such a well-made documentation of a person’s subjection to domestic abuse. That we live in a world where the desensitization of sexuality has gotten to the point where normalizing cruel and intolerable behavior is approved and invested in.
As a female teenager in America, I feel it’s my position to say there is nothing sexy about sexual assault. I want to live in a world where it is glamorous to be respected. I live my life with the hopes that the society in which I live profits from productions which inspire and empower, rather than degrade and demote. I look up to the people I see who seek out others who build them up, and I want to watch the generations who follow me have the same aspirations. Health is the dream, and healthy relationships should be included in that. Fifty Shades of Grey gave me a glimpse at the reasons why the safety of our society isn’t always ensured. It reminded me why I fight a different war and what I, along with every person on this planet, can do to promote our greatest victory. Remember where we put our energy (and our wallets), and take the opportunities that uplift us, while declining those which demote (cough, cough Fifty Shades).