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Manfull: Grey areas

BY ERIN MANFULL | FEBRUARY 18, 2015 5:00 AM

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This past weekend, strategically in tandem with Valentine’s Day, the long-awaited and heavily anticipated 50 Shades of Grey was released. If by some chance you don’t know what this movie is, or have never heard of the book, I’d be thoroughly shocked. Since the book’s release, written by E L James in 2011, women (and some men) everywhere have gone wild over its taboo topic of S&M.

James’s novel outsold all of the Harry Potter series combined and kick-started her to the No. 1 selling author. However, was there a price to be paid for creating a book that glorifies the practices of bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism?

I’ll be honest, the book, as well as the movie, has some pretty steamy scenes. But there were just some parts that I couldn’t get past, even though I knew it was coming. Although the main character, Anastasia, signs a contract to be Grey’s submissive, I couldn’t help but wonder if she lost a sense of freedom or respect once her signature was on paper. The whole idea is control in the bedroom, not necessarily the enjoyment of sex between two consenting partners. In an article in Forbes, contributor Kathryn Casey compared the need of control in BDSM to rape and how a man who needs to control a woman or needs to physically humiliate her isn’t the type of “man” any woman should want to be with. Although I agree with what she says for the most part, we are all entitled to our own guilty pleasures or experiences behind closed doors. I’m not here to cast judgment on anyone who’s into all aspects of Christian Grey’s Red Room of Pain; to each her or his own.

As much of a shadow that 50 Shades has cast over BDSM and whether dominance is degrading to women and harmful to the empowerment of women as a whole, there is something to be said about society not being afraid to discuss the “sex” topic publically anymore. In an article in Medical Daily, author Lizette Borreli sums up the Grey obsession when she said that 50 Shades “has encouraged people to explore their sexual identity and sexual desires, even if they seem unorthodox.”  The 50 Shades of Grey effect seems to have affected not only the younger generation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also noticed a tripling of STIs over the last decade in the 45-65 crowd. The Washington Post. also reported that doctors nationwide have seen a large increase in the number of couples wandering into the emergency room in desperate need of attention to injuries that occurred between the sheets. Which goes to show that just because you’re older doesn’t mean that you’re immune from practicing safe sex or that bondage just might not be your forte.

All in all, the way society views Christian Grey and his way of life will ultimately vary from viewer to viewer. There’s no doubt whether this movie is a controversial topic, but maybe it might just be the spark we needed to unleash the taboo of bedroom secrets. In the end, isn’t controversy the way society begins to adjust its views on what we perceive as normal or socially acceptable? Whether it’s seen as degrading or enlightening, there’s no right answer to what’s “normal” anymore.


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