Feminist’s Forum: To see or not to see Fifty Shades of Grey

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I turned 17 this year, which really only meant one thing: I could finally see R-rated movies by myself. I like to think I was excited about this, not because I am a little bit a loner, but because I have always been a prude about the kind of movies I watch around other people. It used to be that even a curse word was a no go with my father. Now, I can see any movie by myself. This also means many jokes on my part about seeing “Fifty Shades of Grey” by myself on Valentine’s Day.

But is it a joke? Do I, a feminist, really want to see a film that possibly demeans women and promotes violence against them? It could easily be the lack of balanced hormones that makes me, like millions of secret peers and not-so-secret mothers, so curious about a novel that has such graphic sexual content.

While I have only secretly read bits, my mother shamefully read it, denouncing it as both disgusting and badly written. And while I am no expert on a dominant and submissive relationship, I have read many articles that argue Christian Grey should be in jail, not described as kinky.

With violence against women increasing all over the world, why are so many people entranced with this terrible novel? I recently read an article by Leslie Bennetts that showed the multiple sides of female sexuality. I won’t even try to do it justice here by explaining it, but I suggest you should read it for more information. (Be prepared for some blushing and cringing, as Bennetts gets brutally honest.)

But, the cast has a lot of potential. Jamie Dornan, who plays the eponymous Grey, is someone I am a relatively big fan of because of his work on Once Upon a Time and The Fall (the latter of which is on Netflix and I completely recommend.) Dakota Johnson, plays Anastasia Steele (seriously these names are a little ridiculous), and while not very well known, was charming and sweet on the short-lived sitcom, Ben and Kate. I was incredibly saddened when it got cancelled. Also, Marcia Gay Harden plays Grey’s mother, and she is awesome in every sense of the word. Would all these actors sign up for something that is so problematic?

Looking at it from a purely feminist standpoint, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is based off a novel by a woman, has a screenplay by a woman and is directed by a woman. Sam Taylor-Johnson, the aforementioned director, is also talented, with her only feature “Nowhere Boy,” receiving rave reviews. And the screenwriter, Kelly Marcel, also wrote the screenplay for “Saving Mr. Banks,” another movie, albeit more family friendly, that was well received by critics and moviegoers alike. So would all these talented women and actors (disregarding E.L. James, who can’t write well and I won’t give too much credit to) come together and work on a film that demeans women? Something just does not add up.

While watching the numerous trailers that have littered my television watching experience for over a year, my mother was also quick to add that the movie, or maybe just the trailer, looks wholly different than the book. Much more romantic, she says, and sort of like a fairy tale. So, could the movie have been changed enough to accurately portray a dominant and submissive relationship, whatever that may be? I don’t know. The unanswerable questions just fuels my curiosity and makes me want to watch it more.

Before I wrote this, I was just thinking of waiting and writing a review after I see it. But I don’t think I want to actually see it. Especially not with other people. And the obvious humiliation that will occur when I buy a ticket for just myself and sit by myself in the theater is enough to make me want to hold off for a couple weeks, or months, before it becomes less popular.

Anyway I have a better, but still possibly sexist, film that I want to see Valentine’s Day: “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” While the entire film surrounds around more white men, there are a few female players that are being called standouts. Plus the action looks amazing. And Colin Firth can beat any man any day.

So come Valentine’s Day, if you want to watch “Fifty Shades of Grey,” watch it. If your girlfriend or boyfriend does not, maybe try not to feel too relieved. Also, this post was pretty honest, but I feel that you and I have gotten close these past few months and therefore can forgive me for my lapses in judgment.

(Also the first review came out this afternoon, so check it out!)

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