I want to first say that I have not read 50 Shades of Grey. But from all of the hype, media coverage and articles I have read about it, I think I get the gist…or as much gist as I want to get…
(Not to mention that I would rather read the phone book then fill my brain with the lies and dysfunction being “sold” in the book as romance)
In the little I read about the plot and themes in the book, some BIG lies were jumping out at me. In an effort to unveil the lies we continue as a culture are buying into, I decided to write this blog.
1. Love is Not Use
In the last ten years, there seems to be a quickly growing trend in our hyper sexualized culture for violent, aggressive, abusive sex to be portrayed as something desirable, attractive or “sexy.” In my opinion, this has everything to do with the pornography industry and how sex is portrayed in the industry as mutual use, domination and objectification (If you want to learn more about the harmful effects of pornography, check out The Porn Effect or Fight the New Drug.
From what I have gathered, the scenes portrayed in the book involve very violent, aggressive, abusive sexual acts. The bottom line of this is that it portrays sex as pleasure seeking use of the other at whatever means necessary, even if it causes the other person pain.
I am going to go out on a whim here and say that no person wants to be harmed by another. No little girl dreams of the day her husband will blindfold her, chain her to the bed and whip her. This is not a natural desire. However, it seems more and more that our culture is portraying this as the norm… that love is about use.
The truth is that real, true, authentic love is willing the good of the other. In real love, the only person it should cause pain to is the one giving the love because they are called to die….yep, you read that right, die to themselves.
The most loving act is Christ on the cross and HE is the one who was whipped, beaten and scorned for the sake of our sins. He bore the pain for His beloved (us!) for our sake and that was a free act that he chose.
2. Men Are Meant to Protect the Dignity of Women
The main character in the book is a twenty one year old virgin who is interested in Christian Grey. His goal as her “lover” (and I use that term lightly) is to manipulate her and take her purity. As an “inexperienced” young woman, he sees her purity as a challenge, as something to take from her. True real authentic masculinity is protecting the dignity of women at every cost. A real man sees a woman’s purity as a gift, a treasure to be cherished. Not a trophy to win or something to take from her. Our culture is hungering for men who are real and authentic and for woman who recognize their value and worth and won’t buy into the lies they are fed.
3. Relationships Should Not Be About Power and Control
“Boys have cooties”, “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”, “Boys against Girls”, “Battle of the Sexes”…. for so long there has been this tension, this competition between men and women that is a direct result of sin…but…’in the beginning it was not so’… This desire for power, control, domination is not how things were intended.
Men and Women are different, but the differences between us are good, necessary and sacred (yes, sacred!). Because it is in our differences that union, love and life are possible. We compete and dominate out of fear. But, when we see our differences as something to be valued, there is not a desire for power and control, but rather to outdo each other in generosity. And that is so freeing and brings the two joy!
4. Manipulation is Not Romance
A shout out to the ladies on this one… we have probably all experienced some version of this: a guy shows interest in you by either giving you attention, buying you gifts, taking you out and getting to know you and, naturally, you feel special and desirable. There is one question that will help you know if it is romance or manipulation: is he doing these nice things to get something for himself? Or, not to get anything in return but simply because he knows you deserve it?
It is so easy to buy into the lie of manipulation because the deepest desires of our heart as women are being met (or at least we think they are); to feel beautiful and desirable and to receive love. But it is easy to overlook the selfish motives that might be driving the gestures and wooing.
There is quote that says “the purpose of chivalry is to remind men, women and society how special and important women are to the world.” Men opening doors, speaking respectfully about women, buying her dinner, etc is not because she cannot do it herself or so that the man can get something in return, but instead for the woman to know that she deserves to be adored, cared for and treated that way.
The guy in the book is wealthy and uses his wealth, power and prestige to catch the attention of the girl. And, as you can guess, he succeeds. But, if you look at the big picture and how he treats her, one would see that he is selfish, abusive, controlling and dominating….which is the exact opposite of love which is selfless, tender and freeing.
It truly breaks my heart that so many women are reading this book as if it provides any truth or authentic substance for us to take in. But, my prayer is that more men and women will have the courage and strength to avoid the lies we are fed and live out their authentic call as men and women to love and support each other in that call.
Even though it seems our culture has bought into the “50 Shades Phenomenon,” we must always hold onto the hope that light can always push out darkness.
“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” -Philippians 4:8
Margaret works full-time for a parish as a Pastoral Associate of Theology of the Body and Evangelization. As a teen, she first encountered The Theology of the Body and quickly fell in love with St. Pope John Paul II and the beautiful teaching he gave as a gift to the Church. She is passionate about sharing this message with other people… the message of God’s love and plan for our lives! Margaret speaks to various audiences and ages on Authentic Masculinity and Femininity, Theology of the Body, Finding Identity and Purpose and Chastity. She is currently enrolled in the Theology of the Body certification program at the Theology of the Body Institute in Philadelphia. http://createdandredeemed.wordpress.com