Why I Won’t See The Fifty Shades of Grey Movie

Warning: This post contains spoilers.

A friend was driving me to work the other day and we were discussing the recent release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. I said it was a tricky situation for me as I felt like it was a story I should be offended by as a woman, a feminist, and someone who has been in an abusive relationship. But I didn’t want to see it. I felt unqualified to say anything about the book or the movie having neither read the books or seen the movie, and therefore unable to comment on it or be offended by it, but by the same token I really didn’t want to give them the revenue.

After the release of the movie on Friday, I’ve read quite a number of reviews of it. Three of them stood out to me, all published on Mamamia.

One review by Lisa Wilkinson called Fifty Shades of Grey “domestic violence dressed up as erotica”, one review by Rosie Waterland described the movie as “two hours of incredibly disturbing content about an emotionally abusive relationship” and the final review by Mia Freedman which said this:

“What’s fascinating to me is that I honestly feel like I saw a different film to the one they described. Having read all the books, I brought a level of knowledge and understanding and context and familiarity to the movie that non book readers just couldn’t.”

“Readers of the book know the reason Christian is so twisted and controlling and likes his relationships and sex life mapped out in contracts is because of his childhood and his crack addicted prostitute mother WHO WAS SLIM AND BRUNETTE.

We know that’s why all his submissives are slim and brunette. We know that’s why he hates himself.

And because we know the whole story, we understand the power Anastasia has in this relationship. She’s the one who cracks his veneer and his control and makes him rethink everything about himself. For her he breaks all his rules. She makes him take a long hard look in the mirror and he hates what he sees and tries desperately to change. Because of her.”

I read that and I realised: That’s worse.

If anything, that explanation makes me more sure than ever that this is a story I don’t want to put in my head. This is a story that chills me down to my very bones. This is a story of a woman fixing an abuser. A far more dangerous tale than one of domestic violence dressed up as erotica.

This is a tale that speaks directly to the hope of anyone who has been in an abusive relationship. It tells of a man who is abusive and changes because of the love of his partner. A story that gives credence the theory that someone else’s behaviour is something you can change. This is a story that reenforces the idea that we should make excuses for people who abuse others.

That if there is a good enough reason, and your love is powerful enough, that it will all be fine in the end.

Christian Grey is an abuser who is the way he is because he was abused. Sure, that explains the why and makes us understand, but it still doesn’t make it okay.

It will never be okay. And it will not be fine in the end.

One woman in Australia dies every week from domestic violence (Source). Tell them that it’s okay because the person they died at the hands of had an abusive childhood. Or that they were sought out because they looked like his mother. Tell them that it will be fine in the end because their love will make a difference.

I was right to think I should be offended. But this movie isn’t just offensive, it is dangerous.

I’m sorry Fifty Shades of Grey but you won’t be getting my money.

Have you seen or read Fifty Shades of Grey? What were your thoughts? 

  • maree Talidu

    I won’t be going. It glamourises sexual violence.

  • vanessay

    I did not read it. I will not be seeing the movie either. I would like to congratulate you on this well thought out piece of writing, it said everything I thought.

  • Anonymous

    He suffered abuse so it’s okay that he abuses her? NO.

    I read the first two books a short while back, to see what the fuss was.
    I usually finish what I start, but this was just not possible here.

    Aside from the terrible writing and painfully repetitive overuse of certain adjectives and phrases about Anastasia’s ‘inner goddess’, it’s also a completely bullshit unbelievable story written by someone who clearly has no idea about BDSM relationships and didn’t think about the message she was (un?)intentionally sending women, some of whom are teenagers — because, yes, teenagers have been reading the books. (And they can also easily see and naively misinterpret the movie as they have done the book, due to piracy, future DVD sales, the film’s MA rating and the basic failure/inability of cinemas to monitor age restrictions, etc.)

    I tried to read the third book but I couldn’t force myself to read more than a few pages. I had wasted too much time reading that horse shit already by agonisingly pushing through the first two (and often nearly putting them down). The summary I found on the net when I threw the final installment down, after my last thread of patience expired, outlined that it basically ends with them living happily ever after in a big house with two kids, having found the perfect balance between each other’s needs and desires.

    This is total bullshit, given that, as this post says, and many escapees of abusive relationships would agree: you cannot change someone like that.

    Clinging to the hope that the glimpses of his ‘good side’ will eventually become a permanent thing if she just gets it right for long enough?

    The apparent perfect balance ending just pushes the notion that if you work hard enough at it, your abusive partner can change the things that hurt you and it will all work out and they’ll never abuse you or make you feel that way again.

    This is the kind of mindset that sees people remain in an abusive relationship.

    Not only is he an emotionally abusive partner, but a sexually abusive one. Christian ignores Anastasia’s limits, leaves her a sobbing mess after going too far when spanking her in one incident — and I’m sure members of the BDSM community (take a look at Reddit’s multiple threads, for example, along the same lines as those discussed in this and many similar articles across the span of the internet) would back my assertion that there are many more instances like that.

    Having been in an emotionally abusive relationship (which lasted far too long because of the exact same toxic mindset discussed in my comment and the post itself), it’s a kick in the teeth to see that shit making money, being so popular and accepted, while so many people are not collectively seeing what’s really going on in that story.

    I know it’s been a sexual eye-opener for many people, but there are plenty more erotic films, novels and fan fiction, that do not glorify sexual, emotional or domestic violence.

    It’s a shame that this poorly written ode to an abusive relationship earned so much attention.

  • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

    I’m more shocked by the fact that anyone still reads Mamamia 😉

    Never read the book – not interested in the movie – more because, from what I’ve heard, it completely misrepresents the whole concept of BDSM, which is all about mutual respect and trust, not abuse…

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Agreed! I have no issue with BDSM.

      All 3 where shared in my feed. :)


      • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

        I mute “Mamamia” from all my social media feeds… 😉

  • Sophia Russell

    I heartily agree with you Tamsin. I have heard arguments on both sides and the one that irks me the most is, “the film/book isn’t glorifying violence, just portraying it. Does that mean we have a problem with Schindler’s List, etc?”

    The fact that it’s marketed as a sexy, exciting romance IS glorifying domestic violence, or at the very least, sanitising it when the reality is far from sexy. And I agree with your point that the fact he was abused makes it worse – it is not a woman’s job to fix a man and take his abuse because he’s broken.

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      I think a lot of the problem is the blurred lines between BDSM and the abuse.


  • http://emhawker.com.au/ Emily

    Best post I’ve read about Fifty Shades of Grey. “It’s just a bit of fun.” NO. “It’s okay – he was abused as a child.” NO. “But she helps him. She changes him. It’s a fantastic love story.” NO NO NO NO.

    And the argument that it’s just fiction, and do we want to ban other movies about domestic violence just doesn’t work. Because without fail, the other movies mentioned portray DV as wrong, not as aspirational.

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Thanks Emily. I agree


  • http://www.millicentnankivell.com/ Millicent Nankivell

    I’ve been attempting, and failing, to eloquently find ways to word my thoughts on Fifty Shades of Grey, but I think you just did that for me. Thank you.

    As a woman who has been in an abusive relationship and desperately held onto the hope that I could help or change him, this rings true to home and is terrifying that people are defending it as just being a “fantasy”. Those who have experienced the grim reality realise it’s nothing worth fantasizing.

    As all of this is a trigger for me, I refuse to watch the films, or read the books.


    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      I’m so sorry to hear that and glad my article helped you articulate your thoughts. I can understand why people believe it’s just harmless fiction, I do. But when you’re in that space you will grab on to any shred you can find that justifies you staying. That feeds into the hope they will change. It’s tough to explain.

  • Monique Fischle

    I love to jump on a bandwagon, but there is absolutely nothing in me that has any interest in ever reading the books or seeing the movies. You have helped to articulate why. Thank you.

  • http://sonjalouise.wordpress.com SonjaLouise

    T, so brilliantly written – everything I wanted to say on the subject and more!

    For anyone interested in reading more about the problematic aspects of the trilogy, can I recommend “The curious kinky person’s guide to the fifty shades trilogy”. It’s an e-book that costs about $1 to download via amazon. Each chapter of each book is dissected and I learnt *a lot* from reading it :)

    Safe to say, I won’t be going to see the movie.

  • busy lady

    Thank you for this post. I haven’t seen the movie nor read the book, but I have heard and read reviews and I agree–it is a dangerous book and movie.