“Fifty Shades of Grey” is a New York Times best seller and is the best selling paperback of all time, beating out the beloved “Harry Potter” series. And that is what is wrong with the world.
“Fifty Shades,” which has been described as “mommy porn” and “erotic romance,” is the story of a 21-year old virgin, Anastasia, who agrees to a purely sexual relationship, contracts included, with the S&M-obsessed Christian Grey.
The author of the series, E. L. James has been listed as one of the most influential people in the world. That is embarrassing.
Influence is a powerful thing. Is Miss James using her influence for good, and whom is she influencing? She is influencing a generation of women to fantasize and embrace being sexually submissive and dominated by men.
Supporters of the “Fifty Shades” franchise argue that it liberates women sexually. That it opens a door for them to explore their sexuality.
In an excerpt straight from the book, Grey ties Anastasia’s arms to his bed and tells her if she struggles he will tie her feet as well. That sounds like anything but sexual freedom. That sounds like rape.
The book series is not only poorly written and overly sexualized but also offensive in perpetuating rape culture.
Wearside Women in Need, a charity in Washington helping victims of sexual and physical assault, asked for copies of the book and turned them into toilet paper.
The “Fifty Shades” series has been credited with rebooting the S&M industry. Since its release, sales of soft bondage ropes have increased eight percent, Trojan vibrator sales have gone up 14 percent and visits to bondage pornography sites have greatly increased.
The book series began as fan fiction for the “Twilight” series but even Stephenie Meyer admits it’s not her thing, and she hasn’t read it. JK Rowling refuses to read the books and has gone so far as to promise her editor she wouldn’t touch it. More than 70 million people worldwide have read it, including Oprah Winfrey.
Soon, millions will be able to see the film adaptation, which is slated to open in 2015. That is, if the filmmakers can pull off a miracle and achieve an R rating for the extremely graphic, erotica novel.
While “Fifty Shades” has invaded many a bookshelf, “Blurred Lines” took over our radios. Robin Thicke, son of “Step by Step” actor Alan Thicke, has been recording R&B music for years. But with the release of “Blurred Lines” he forced himself upon America.
Just as the title suggests, “Blurred Lines” blurs the line between healthy sexuality and sexual assault. The bridge repeats the words “I know you want it,” which are words commonly used by rapists as reported by victims. Lines has been described as “rapey” by many.
The original music video was originally banned on YouTube but has since been reinstated. It features topless models dancing around while Thicke, rapper T.I. and Pharrell Williams sing the lyrics “do it like it hurt” / “I’ll give you something to tear your ass in two” / “you’re a good girl … the way you grab me, must wanna get nasty.”
Oh, and let us not forget the mylar balloons spelling out “Robin Thicke has a big dick” in the video.
Blogger Lisa Huyne of Feminist LA had this to say about both the song and its video, “Basically, the majority of the song has the R&B singer murmuring ‘I know you want it’ over and over into a girl’s ear. Call me a cynic, but that phrase does not exactly encompass the notion of consent in sexual activity….Seriously, this song is disgusting – though admittedly very catchy.”
In the YouTube video “Robin Thicke is a dick,” model Amy Davison addresses her beef with “Lines,” Thicke and the accompanying video.
“The women are clearly being used as objects to reinforce the status of the men in the video,” Davison said. “The men have all the control and status because they are not vulnerable – they are completely covered. Whereas the women have no status and are totally open to be exploited, ogled, and used.”
Rape Crisis spokesperson Katie Russell said of “Lines,” “Certain lyrics are explicitly sexually violent and appear to reinforce victim-blaming rape myths, for example about women giving ‘mixed signals’ through their dress or behavior, saying ‘no’ when they really mean ‘yes’ and so on.”
Thicke defends the songs and video. Thicke cites the fact that he’s married and asked his wife’s permission before releasing the song and recording its video as his main argument against those who take offense.
“We pretty much wanted to take all the taboos of what you’re not supposed to do — bestiality, you know, injecting a girl in her bum with a five-foot syringe,” Thicke said. “I just wanted to break every rule of things you’re not supposed to do and make people realize how silly some of these rules are.”
Then again, Thicke also said, “What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before.” He also claimed he was kidding. So, it’s okay.
Sexual assault by definition is any unwanted sexual contact or attention resulting from force, threats, bribes, manipulation, pressure or violence. The state of Utah defines rape as “when the actor has sexual intercourse with another person without the victim’s consent … whether or not the actor is married to the victim.”
Both “Blurred Lines” and “Fifty Shades of Grey” are not only dripping in sexual assault and rape but perpetuate rape culture and societal acceptance of sexual exploitation of women. And that is not okay.
Brittany is the Opinion Editor at UVU Review. She is a passionate little soul of a person. She is a senior at Utah Valley University and will graduate in spring 2014. With a background in addiction recovery and journalism, she is planning a career in non-profits. She can be found on Saturday nights hanging out with her cat Ringo Starr and watching Netflix. She probably tweets too much.