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Okay, so first, let me say I know I will get a lot of flack for what I am about to say. I know that the "50 Shades of Grey" series has somewhat of a cult following, and I know that it will supposedly be the cause of the next big Baby Boom. Or perhaps it will be this insane, Arctic blast that has a chokehold over a good part of the country. With the timing of both, who knows?
First let me say, while I have read excerpts of the books, I have NOT read them in their entirety. I have not, and more than likely will not see the movie. That's right. I won't be buying into the 50 Shades hype. And for good reason.
No, I am not on some moral high horse, protesting the strong sexual themes, either. While I try my best to keep it classy online, I am the furthest thing in the world from being a prude, and almost nothing shocks me. If you're turned on by kinky sex, that's fantastic. As long as it's between consenting adults, and no one gets hurt, anything goes. Grab the cuffs, the riding crop, and bang away to your heart's content. I'm not going to judge. Heck, I have a toy box of my own. A big one. Creativity in the bedroom is a fantastic way to keep a relationship exciting. Exploring one's sexuality with someone who makes you feel loved and safe can be truly liberating.
I am not here to hate on the books, or on the movie. I won't even tell you not to watch/read them. I would like to give a slightly different perspective, though. The perspective of a woman who survived nearly a decade with a twisted, sadistic, depraved man.
The reason I am troubled by this film and series of books is because I think it sends a potentially dangerous message to women. A very dangerous one.
Hear me out, now.....And really think about it. No, I am not about to go on some irate, feminist rant. I am going to speak from experience. From the heart. This isn't easy for me to talk about, but I feel that it's necessary, especially in a culture where the entertainment industry influences so much in our everyday lives. Don't believe me? How many times have YOU watched "The Notebook" and longed for a love like Noah and Allie's? Be honest! I know I have done this about 4,295,123 times. Much to my husband's irritation. Seriously. I, like most women, can appreciate a good love story.
When I first learned about "50 Shades of Grey", of course the emphasis was on the taboo sex. Then, I began hearing from friends all over how this is a "love story", and how Christian Grey had a bad childhood, and didn't know how to love....Somehow, after meeting and carrying on an abusive, sadistic relationship with Anastasia, he miraculously learns to love, and becomes a "nice guy."
This is where I have a problem.....
You see, I was in an extremely abusive relationship for almost a decade. One that almost killed me, in more ways than one. In fact, I think it DID kill a part of me. The abuse changed me, and there are parts of myself that I will never, ever get back.
My ex is the son of a highly respected surgeon. He was raised in a fairly affluent area, and attended the top private schools. Upon meeting him, he seemed charming. Sophisticated, in a weird, redneck way. From the outside, he might appear to be the perfect catch. At least at the tender age of 16, to ME he did.
However, despite appearances, his upbringing was far from perfect. Growing up, he witnessed horrendous abuse, continuous adultery, and was basically pre-conditioned to have little, if any, respect for women. He had a mentally and emotionally weak mother prone to fits of paranoia and man-hating, and a sexist, abusive tyrant of a father. He was taught to believe that women could not be trusted, and they are merely objects for men's pleasure, to be used up and tossed away. His family dynamic was incredibly unhealthy, and the skeletons in their closets are many.
Being young and naive, I didn't see the warning signs. I was swept off of my feet by an older guy who seemed to have it all. I fell hard, and I fell fast. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.
It didn't take long for my personal hell to begin.
It started out with control. I couldn't have friends, male or female, because it meant I *MUST* be cheating on him. He didn't like me to wear nice things. In fact, if I tried, it made me a whore. I had a very cute pair of boots. They were shorter boots, with a tall, chunky heel. Very 1990's. Think "Clueless". They were not slutty at all, but he hated them and called them my "Whore boots". (Now, I actually have tall, sleek, stiletto boots that could be classified as "Whore Boots", and my current hubby LOVES them.) He even had the nerve to rub it in my face that my own mother didn't want me, so he was doing me a favor somehow by being with me. He took pleasure in making me feel alone and unwanted.
Then there was financial control. Sure, I could have a job....But God forbid I actually have control over my earnings. In his mind, a woman is incapable of managing money, so I had to hand my pay over to him directly. This furthered his controlling grip over me and made me completely dependent on him.
Then came the more obvious abuse. Mostly, it was verbal and emotional. I was told on a constant basis how ugly and worthless I was. I was told that no one would ever want me. I was told that nothing I did was good enough. When I was pregnant with my oldest child, I was constantly accused of banging the Milk Man, and he even told me he hoped he'd "come home from work and find me shoving tampons inside of me because I was bleeding profusely". After my baby, HIS baby was born, he made fun of my newly-stretched out belly, and said I was disgusting, hideous, and had the skin of a "dying old person". He said that there was no excuse for me to look like I had just had a child. He made me feel such shame and self-hatred, and I was only around 19 at the time.
After a while, free-thinking and having my own opinions was highly discouraged. Then I was told that he only said these things and acted this way because I somehow provoked him, merely by existing and failing to be perfect enough. I would get scolded for everything from cooking the wrong meal to not making sure the labels on the canned goods were uniform and all lined up correctly, according to his "system". He literally found any reason he could to destroy my self-esteem, one little piece at a time.
Of course there was physical abuse, too. Thankfully, this was far less frequent than the daily emotional and verbal abuse. During the years I was with him, I have had a .44 Ruger Blackhawk with a 10 inch barrel held to my head while I was for all intents and purposes held hostage in my own home. (Yes, really....There was a SWAT team hiding in my bushes during the ordeal.) I have had a butcher knife forcefully hacked into a large candle about 6 inches from me, I have been hit, shoved, and choked. One time, he choked me almost to the point of unconciousness. I had a ring of bruises on my neck afterwards. This was done IN FRONT OF MY CHILD. The only thing that saved me? The dog. This dog didn't even like me....It was HIS dog....But he could tell I was in danger, and he attacked my ex, causing him to release his grip on my throat. The poor dog was then hog-tied to the deck and beaten. I truly believe that dog saved my life. I actually asked my ex if he would have killed me then, and his answer was "I don't know."
I fully admit, in the beginning, I fought back. I used to be pretty feisty, until he broke me down and sapped me of my ability to stand up for myself. After a while, I learned that fighting back didn't do me any favors in the long run. Plus, he had brainwashed me into hating myself so much, I thought that I had somehow caused him to be the way he is. If I had just been good enough....Perfect enough....He wouldn't have had to treat me that way.
When violence wasn't occurring, there was the ongoing threat of violence. My ex is a very cruel and sadistic man. One time, he grabbed my nipple and twisted it HARD, just for his own amusement. He would tell me he would gouge my eyes out with a spoon. He would "joke" that he could put my body through a wood-chipper, and that no one would ever find me. I lived in a constant state of fear. I truly believed that this man could have killed me. In fact, I have told family and friends that even to this day, if anything should happen to me, it would be wise to look at him and his associates. I am still afraid of him, and I always will be.
Of course, there was sexual abuse, too.
My ex is far from normal when it comes to sex....He is sadistic, and he likes being in control. He liked to degrade me, and had an odd obsession with anal sex. Consentual or not. I hate to admit this, but one of his "urges" actually caused me to need rectal surgery. Of course he didn't want me to go to the ER to be seen. Then he might have been discovered. He had his FATHER perform it, after hours, in his office. Do you know how humiliating that was? To have my father-in-law operate on my injured bottom, while my mother-in-law looked on? And of course they KNEW what had happened.....But since his father was an abusive man himself, they laughed it off, as if it were normal. They all made it seem so normal.
For almost 10 years, I was the victim of abuse. I stayed for a lot of reasons. My self-esteem was non-existent, and I was truly made to think that I couldn't survive without him. Plus, after an episode of abuse, he would cry....Apologize. Swear it would never happen again. This is what they call the "Honeymoon Period" after the storm. I wanted so desperately to be loved, but felt unworthy of love at the same time. I felt helpless, alone, and stuck. And foolishly, I wanted to believe him. I wanted to believe that this time would really be the last time.
Ladies, this is why the whole "50 Shades of Grey" phenomenon has me worried. There are a lot of Christian Greys in this world, but 99.99999999999% of the time, they do not miraculously learn how to love and turn into Prince Charming that just happens to have mad skills between the sheets.. In the real world, this simply does not happen, especially when an abusive nature is so deeply embedded in a person's being from the time they were a child. No amount of love is going to change an abuser, and no matter how tempting it can be, especially for a nurturing woman, it's not possible to "help" them. It does not work. Trust me. I have been there, and have tried, more than once.
In the REAL world, the abuse doesn't stop. Abusers don't wake up one day and see the light, realizing the damage they have done to the woman (or man) they claim to love. Too often in the real world, the victim ends up in a body bag. This is real talk.
Look, I appreciate the need for fantasy and romance. I know what it's like to be swept away in a good love story. I also know what it's like to have a healthy appetite for sex. Even the kinkier side of things. Within a healthy, loving relationship, this can be fun. Dan and I have plenty of fun, ourselves. But there's a thin line between fun and abuse, and judging by the excerpts of "50 Shades of Grey" that I have read myself as well as what others have told me, this line is not only crossed, it is left in the dust.
I see people online saying that they are in love with the fictional Christian Grey. It horrifies me to hear this. Sure, women are somehow attracted to the "Bad Boy" that they think they can help. Sure, it can be easy to get almost intoxicated by the excitement.....At first. I have been guilty of this, myself.
But once the intoxication that infatuation brings wears off, this kind of relationship can be devastating. Abuse harms more than the body, it harms the soul. I am not the same person I was before I met my ex. I am no longer confident, outgoing, or trusting of people in general. That "man", and I use this term loosely, killed a part of me that I might never get back. He is the only person in the world I can truly say I have hatred for.
Even though I have been remarried for almost 7 years to an amazing man, I still suffer the effects of my years of being abused and controlled. I have severe social anxiety, PTSD, and bouts of depression that can be crippling. I was Bulimic for YEARS, all in hopes of finally being good enough. I have a very hard time meeting new people and connecting with them on a personal level. No matter what I do in life or how much I have succeeded, HIS voice is still there, in the back of my mind, telling me I am worthless. Maybe it always will be.
Ladies, I know it's easy to get caught up in a steamy love story. I know it's easy to fantasize about a strong, attractive, dominant man. I get that. I really do. But real life isn't like the movies. An abuser is not going to change his ways because that one special lady comes into his life and teaches him how to love. It simply does not happen in real life. So if you're going to watch this film or read these books, please keep in mind that this is not a realistic story.....It glorifies abuse, and I find that to be not only incredibly unhealthy, but potentially dangerous, too.
I HAD my rounds with "Christian Grey". I am damn lucky to have survived it. But now I see things quite differently, so I simply cannot buy into the hype. Abuse is abuse, and there's nothing glamorous or sexy about that. Enjoy the story, If you must, but please don't seek out your own "Christian Grey". Take it from someone who has lived it. It's not worth it. You may survive it, but I promise you, abuse destroys parts of the soul that you can never really get back.