Ten Things to Think About While You’re Watching ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’
by JENNIFER ROBACK MORSE
This article was first published at National Catholic Register on February 13, 2015.
Do you want to come and see Fifty Shades of Grey with me? You know we really shouldn’t be going to see it. But what the heck. It is just a movie. It is perfectly okay. Since we pretty well know the “plot” will drag in a movie like this, here are a few things for us to think about.
1. We came to this movie because we expected to be sexually stimulated. Anything else, we tell ourselves, is self-deception.
2. The images we are seeing on the screen are going to be lodged in our memories forever. You don’t like the particular image you are seeing right now? Too bad. I saw some movies back in my 20s, and those images are still with me. They appear in my mind at the most inopportune times. The more sexually arousing the scene, the more firmly the mental pathway is established in the mind.
Oh well. It is just a movie, after all.
3. Unless of course, we can no longer be aroused by the images in front of us right now. Maybe we need more intense, more explicit, more extreme images in order to become aroused. In that case, we have become desensitized to sexual images. In other words, we’re becoming sex addicts.
That is something to think about while we’re watching Fifty Shades of Grey: sex addicts masturbating in front of their computers. Are they manly men? Are they “free”? Are more women getting addicted to pornography? Is this “progress?”
Oh, well. Pass the popcorn.
4. Married couples often develop sexual games with one another. Over the years of their life together, they learn what works for them. The husband knows what is too much. The wife knows how to signal what is too much. The husband knows her signals. They don’t need to have a contract or prenuptial agreement or anything else to spell out their limits. During the course of their marriage, they have learned to intuit one another’s feelings.
To do this kind of sexual activity with a stranger you met in a bar is stupid and dangerous.
That is the word for us to think about while we’re watching Fifty Shades of Grey: stupid.
5. You suggested that we should think about going to a theater across town so we won’t see anyone we know coming in or out of the theater. But wait: Why do we care who else is in this theater?
It is just a movie, after all.
I have a theory about why you and I care. Let’s take the best-case scenario of a married couple watching this movie together. They have every right to be sexual with each and share their sexual fantasies with each other. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the sexual space a married couple creates between themselves is truly sacred. They each know everything about the other. They create and share a secret, special world together. To invite another person into it would destroy it. And to see it on the big screen damages it also.
The people who see you coming in or out of the theater now have an idea about that sacred space. They are, in effect, trespassing. But the trespass isn’t exactly their fault: We invited them there by going to a sexually explicit movie in a public place. We put our sexual fantasies on display.
That is why it would be creepy for me to see my child’s first-grade teacher here. I bet you would be disturbed to see your pastor and his wife here. Even the leading actress of this film doesn’t want her parents to see her in it. She feels shame. And so do we, even though everything in today’s society says no one should ever feel shame about anything.
That is something to think about as we watch Fifty Shades of Grey. The people with the least shame are running the show, literally.
6. According to Newsweek magazine, the Research and Fatwa Department of ISIS says that it is “permissible” to have sexual intercourse with, beat and trade non-Muslim slaves, including young girls. Time also reported that as ISIS moved through the remote communities of northern Iraq in August, the group reportedly enslaved thousands of Yazidi women.
Nazand Begikhani, an adviser to the Kurdistan regional government on gender issues, told CNN, “These women have been treated like cattle. They have been subjected to physical and sexual violence, including systematic rape and sex slavery. They’ve been exposed in markets in Mosul and in Raqqa, Syria, carrying price tags.”
Now, that is something for us to think about while we’re watching Fifty Shades of Grey.
Except it is not just a movie.
7. Of course, we should not just pick on Muslims. Every year, plenty of women and girls are trafficked into involuntary sexual activity all over the world. According to the U.S. Department of State, 44 million people were trafficked worldwide in 2014. Human trafficking is one of the most profitable criminal enterprises, with estimates of profit worldwide of $32 billion and $9.5 billion annually in the U.S. My hometown of San Diego has been identified by the FBI as one of the top 13 high-intensity child-prostitution areas. These children are given or sold to men who believe they are entitled to use them.
That is something to think about as we watch Fifty Shades of Grey: human trafficking.
But it is perfectly okay for us to sit here. It is just a movie, after all.
8. Some men are having their sexuality formed by watching movies like this one. They are forming their sexual selves around the idea that women want to be hurt and that they as men are entitled to use women. This movie is reinforcing those beliefs.
9. Here’s something else for us to think about: The people who made this movie are making lots of money convincing men that they are entitled to use women and that women like it.
We just gave our money to these cretins.
Which brings me to the one last thing we can think about as we watch Fifty Shades of Grey.
10. It is perfectly okay to get up and walk out.
After all, it is just a movie.