Monday, February 16, 2015

Who Never Read 50 Shades

Recently there has been a war in social media about 50 SHADES. I have a theory about why.

For the most part there are three groups in this fight. The first says the book is poorly written but entertaining drivel. They say it has nothing wrong. There were no rape scenes. It wasn't abusive. It's just erotica etc etc.

Then there are others who read it and hated it not because of the writing quality necessarily, but because of the message communicated to women and girls about BDSM and sexual relationships.

The most extreme warriors in this battle are those who never read the book and will not see the movie. These are the people who have started Twitter campaigns and written editorials. These are the people who unfollow and unfriend fans.

I think the first group has lived in blissful ignorance of the experiences of the other two. The fans cannot have experienced physical abuse or sexual violence and comfortably enjoy these books. How can you read about someone getting hit or humiliated or dominated and feel comfortable if you experienced sexual violence or physical abuse yourself? Maybe these fans have never experienced overt misogyny. They don't know what it is like to be told, in no uncertain terms, that they are worthless because they have a vagina. Whatever the case, they have seemingly gone through life unscathed.

The second group, my guess, has had some abuse experience either through friends or family, or directly to a mild amount. They have suffered at the hands of someone with more power. They have experienced or watched someone else suffer through something. They are allies to those who have bore the brunt of the abusive statistics and they recognize the connections between popular entertainment and the normalizing of such behavior.

The last group, the anti-fans, are the ones we really need to pay attention to. These are the people we need to take the time to understand and empathize with. These are our canaries in the coal mine. I believe these are the most likely to have suffered directly. They are the ones who were manipulated, molested, beaten, or raped. They are the ones who were stripped of their power by someone they trusted. They were the ones who have been told by society it was their fault. They are the ones who discovered the very people closest to them would not come to their aid when they were abused.

When I was younger I was told by a friend, the people who are most sensitive, most outspoken about abuse, are those who have experienced something directly. Let's consider the statistics. 1 in 3 women will be sexually or physically abused in their life time. That is ONE BILLION WOMEN. Of the women alive today, one billion of them have or will be abused physically or sexually.

That's a lot of people.

Think about your Facebook feed. Think about your friends. Think about your Twitter, G+, and Instagram followers. Think about the people you grew up with. How many of them reacted poorly to this book? The movie? Maybe they were impacted directly by abuse. It is possible. It is likely.

Statistically you know someone who has been raped. You know someone who was molested. You know someone who was beaten. You know someone who was verbally abused. You probably know many someones. Just because it happened doesn't mean they would tell you. Don't assume you were judged to be a safe person. These are the things we don't talk about. These are things society says are shameful.

So if you are a fan of this infamous piece of pulp, think about what it tells those people, what they hear out of your mouth: I am not safe. I am not going to protect you. I stand with your abuser.

And all you thought you said was, "It was a fun Saturday read."

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