The movie 50 Shades of Grey led the box office last weekend – Valentine’s Day weekend. No I did not, and will not, go see it. While I oppose the pornographic nature of the film, I am more disturbed by its glorification of the abuse of women.
In 2013, social scientist Amy E. Bonomi published a study wherein the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy were read by multiple professionals and assessed for characteristics of intimate partner violence, or IPV, using the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) standards for emotional abuse and sexual violence. The study found that nearly every interaction between the two primary characters – Ana and Christian – was emotionally abusive in nature, including stalking, intimidation, and isolation. The study group also observed pervasive sexual violence within the CDC’s definition, including Christian’s use of alcohol to circumvent Ana’s ability to consent, and that Ana exhibits classic signs of an abused woman, including constant perceived threat, stressful managing, and altered identity. This young 21-year-old woman’s virginity is stolen and she is brutally beaten before breaking free. Yet this movie is released on Valentine’s Weekend as a romantic date movie.
Something is very wrong. Women in the age demographic depicted in the movie – 20-24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. More than 4 million women experience physical assault and rape by their partners every year. Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness in the United States as women flee for their lives. This is not something to glorify.
Anyone who has served a victim of domestic violence recognizes the pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. So why would we choose to glorify this behavior, even encourage it, by suggesting young men and women see the movie on their date. What do we think will happen afterward?
Domestic Violence is an issue far too prevalent in society. Since Hollywood will not take a stand against such abuse, it is time for the church to stand up and be counted. That the abuser in this series would be named “Christian” only magnifies the insult. True Christians believe strongly that every person is made in the image of God. They are precious people not disposable pleasure commodities. How can we combat human trafficking and violence against women if we advance the lie of consent and a woman’s free choice?
“The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.” Ps. 11:5. The word for righteous – tzedek – is the same for justice. The Lord looks for those who will stand for justice against the wicked whom God hates with a passion. Let us be such people. Let’s stand against oppression and violence. Let’s demonstrate the true love that God desires as we respect the dignity of women, fight to protect them from violence and oppression, and listen to the challenge of Jesus to be the Good Samaritan who helps the victim of violence as we
Go and Do Likewise