Fifty Shades. We’ve all heard of it. Since the book was published, it has sold more than 100 million copies, been translated into 52 languages, and, according to DailyMail.com, “has beaten JK Rowling and Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown to the UK record” for the fastest selling paperback. Now with the film adaptation in theaters, which has earned more than $409 million in the box office since it’s release on Feb. 13, the series is more popular than ever before. But, despite the apparent popularity, there is no doubt that it is not for the better.
A University of Illinois at Chicago student recently sexually assaulted another 19-year-old student, attempting to re-enact scenes in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. How many more times will attempts made? One of the central motifs in Fifty Shades is the idea of submission. There is a fine line between the kind of submission associated with BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism), which is the main feature of the book and movie, and the kind of submission that is used to control and abuse a partner.
Social scientist Amy E. Bonomi performed a study in 2013 using multiple professionals and the CDC’s (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) definition of emotional abuse to identify whether or not the book series was representative of an abusive relationship. The study concluded that, “emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction, including…stalking, intimidation, and isolation.” Anastasia, the heroine of the book, is tracked by her billionaire boyfriend Christian via phone and computer; that’s stalking. Christian threatens to punish her and uses “intimidating verbal and nonverbal behaviors” to control her; that’s intimidation. He also limits her connections and interaction with other people due to a “contract” she has to sign for the potential BDSM arrangement, making it a completely sexual, not romantic, relationship, and denying the ability to tell anyone about it; that’s isolation.
What is most frightening is the possibility of this type of abuse being passed off as a lifestyle instead of what the book actually portrays: romanticized destructive submission. Fifty Shades of Grey is not an accurate representation of a healthy and loving relationship. It degrades the integrity of real love and affection in a relationship, and may make a person settle for someone who is as abusive, if not more, than Christian Grey and become complacent with abuse like Anastasia Steele. The series should not be idolized and glorified as it is; abuse is a real thing, and not even fiction can change what it looks like.
Jamie Bogue, Editor-in-Chief
Senior Jamie Bogue is the Editor-in-Chief for the 2014-2015 Colonel. She is a drum major for marching band, sings in Ledyard Carolers, and is attending Liberty University next fall.