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50 Shades of Porn

50 Shades of Porn

By Jo Hayes

IF you’ve spent any time on social media in the past few weeks, your newsfeed would most probably be filled with dozens of posts on the newly released film, 50 Shades of Grey.

The floodgates have opened.

Supporters and critics have come out in force, passionately backing or slamming the movie, which is expected to break records at the box office.

The porn – I mean, romance film – is based on the 2011 “erotic” novel of the same name, the first in the “50 shades” trilogy.

It follows the relationship between the innocent college graduate Anastasia Steele and a young, sexually experienced (and emotionally damaged) business magnate Christian Grey.

The book and film have made headlines around the world for their explicitly erotic sex scenes.

Basically, Mr Grey uses coercion, violence, jealousy, intimidation and manipulation to keep Ms Steele under his sexual domination.

The movie is marketed as a “racy romance flick”, praised by some commentators for providing an “escape” for women from their normal lives.

Why anyone would want to escape to a world of abusive, manipulative, sadistic sex is beyond me, but there you go.

I caught up with a group of girlfriends last week and conversation soon turned to this new movie.

We were collectively incredulous about how a pornographic movie (yes, that’s what it is) had become so “mainstream”.

And we were collectively disappointed that days before February 14, the “unofficial” Valentine’s Day movie for 2015 was one that glorifies and glamorises sexual violence and pornography.

How romantic.

Now, a disclaimer: I haven’t seen the movie or read the book, but I’ve read enough commentaries to get the general gist of it (at least, as much gist as I want to get).

So, if Jo Hayes & co aren’t reading or watching 50 Shades, then who is?

Well, about 100 million other women.

That’s how many copies have been sold, with the book topping bestseller lists around the world.

It’s harmless “mummy porn”, according to several commentators – chick-lit on steroids.

It’s about two consenting adults exploring their sexuality in adventurous ways.

Ah, no, it’s sexual violence and domestic abuse wrapped up in a cute Hollywood bubble served up on a silver platter just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Lucky us.

Sexual and domestic violence campaigners have lashed out, condemning the movie for the way it trivialises domestic violence.

Executive director of the National Centre for Sexual Exploitation in the United States Dawn Hawkins has described 50 Shades as a “sensationalised lie, telling women that they can, and should, fix violent and controlling men by being obedient and devoted”.

She says the book (like most pornography) sends a message to men that unrestrained domination is what women want.

And she adds that 50 Shades is going one step further by sweetening the deal with an “unrealistic fairytale ending” convincing women that this type of relationship is normal.

Hawkins has also criticised the film’s US classification rating of R.

She says it should read: “Promotes torture as sexually gratifying, graphic nudity, encourages stalking and abuse of power, promotes female inequality, glamorises and legitimises violence against women.”

For your information, The Australian Classification Board gave the film an MA15+ rating (yes, I was shocked too).

The film was banned in Malaysia where it was deemed “too sadistic”.

On the other side of the 50 Shades debate are “pro-porn” feminists who are celebrating the fact that a female writer is addressing female sexual desire (note to them, women actually don’t desire to be sexually abused).

An American feminist Betty Dodson, who likes to be known as “bad Aunty Betty”, has admonished those who’ve tried to play down the “mommy porn” descriptive.

She says we should embrace what 50 Shades is all about – that is, pornography for women.

“It’s textual porn and that’s okay … why are women lying to themselves? Why won’t we just own what it is?”

Loathe as I am to agree with anything Betty Dodson says, she’s right.

It IS porn.

And like most forms of pornography, it is depraved, misogynistic, sexually violent and is anti-romance.

As women, are we okay with that?

Girls, let’s not sell ourselves short.

Sadomasochism is not romance.

Let’s boycott 50 Shades of Grey, and save our grey matter for something worthy.

Jo Hayes is a Brisbane Catholic journalist.

Written by: Guest Contributor
Catholic Church Insurance

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