I Watched 50 Shades of Grey, and I Liked it. Sort of.

by Chloe Jeffreys · 31 comments

in Sex, Love and Marriage

fiftyshadesofgreyWARNING! SPOILERS! I just got back from seeing 50 Shades of Grey at a multiplex near me. If you don’t want to read spoilers then go away. If you don’t want to read another post about 50 Shades of Grey then go away. Unlike Christian Grey, I give absolutely no fucks (more on that later).

REQUISITE NOD-TO-THE-HATERS DISCLAIMER: This is my REVIEW OF THE MOVIE, not the books. Plenty of haterade has already been served up over how badly the books are written. And all that hating matters exactly not at all. 100 million copies of these terrible books have been sold–something like two books a second during its peak of popularity. And the movie that nobody is going to see because it’s so awful made $85 MILLION dollarinis in its opening weekend.

All of this conspicuous consumption of something that everybody hates means something. What that something means is currently a matter of much public debate, but it means something whether we like it or not. And since so many people don’t like it at all, one is left to wonder if the haters aren’t actually the ones driving the FSoG juggernaut.

Pearl Clutching and the legacy of the Victorian Era

50 Shades of Grey for all its terrible writing stands among some mighty literary/smut giants. Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Fanny Hill, Moll Flanders, Lolita, and The Story of O have all drawn the attention of the pearl-clutchers of their day.

Nobody is surprised when all the religious leaders agree that a movie about sex is not okay, but you know you’ve hit a nerve when even the BDSM community is clutching its pearls by repudiating the notion that 50 Shades reflects the values of their community. Let that sink in for a moment. Both the bishops of the Catholic Church and Professional Dominants think Christian Grey is a bad boyfriend/domme.

It all boils down to consent. The charge against Christian Grey is that he never fully explains his predilection for sadism and the consequences thereof to Ana. She’s an innocent unwittingly drawn into Grey’s sick and twisted sumptuous and well-appointed Red Room of Pain. On Facebook people are coming right out and saying that this movie doesn’t just promote but celebrates something called “the rape culture.” As a feminist, I take that shit seriously. But as a sexual adventurer–within the context of a 30-year monogamous relationship–I wondered if–like almost always--it’s much to do about nothing.

My Movie Experience

I saw FSoG on a whim. I could see the movie theater right across the street from the restaurant when the thought popped into my head, “Hey! It’s my night off; I should go see FSoG.”

I texted my husband to let him know so he wouldn’t worry when I didn’t answer my phone. I laugh when I think that some of the people I know who publicly denounce the relationship between Christian and Ana would be the first to think that I really ought to get my husband’s permission to see this movie. Irony much?

Which brings me to my first real thought about the content of the movie.

Is male dominance anything new?

Is it really the relationship between Ana and Christian that has people so bothered, or is it just the kinky sex that Ana mostly enjoys? Because frankly their relationship is the perfect fantasy lived out loud of every Christian marriage self-help book I’ve ever read.

Give the man all the sex he wants, let him think he’s in charge, and then he’ll marry you and take care of you for the rest of your life.

Ana just has the good sense to play this well-worn game with a billionaire who likes to have sex in thoughtful and unique ways instead of the mostly pieces of crap husbands I see so many women so desperately trying to submit to.

I walked to the theater feeling a bit dirty and wrong. I hadn’t been able to make it through a single trailer for this movie, plus I was worried that I might be letting down my entire gender by tossing in my 8 bucks to support a rape culture.

I actually walked past the theater on my first approach because there were two young men walking towards the theater at the same moment. I didn’t want them to think I was the sort of woman, you know, dowdy, middle-aged, mommy pornish, who had nothing better to do than go see 50 Shades of Grey all by herself. Even if that is the truth I didn’t want anyone else to know. On my second approach these two guys were still standing there talking to each other so I had to decide not to give a fuck and walk inside and buy a ticket.

They followed me inside.

For some reason I really did not want these guys to know I was going to see this movie. It crossed my mind that if they saw me going then maybe they’d think I’d like to get raped afterwards.

But they weren’t going away, so I set my resolve. I kinda whispered to the clerk that I wanted one ticket to FSoG. She repeated back in a voice that I’m sure was heard across the lobby, “ONE TICKET FOR 50 SHADES OF GREY.” for no apparent reason other than to let the two guys behind me know that I was going to see the movie that promotes a rape culture and that after the movie I probably would like to be raped. I cringed inside.

As I walked away with my ticket I heard the two guys say, “Two tickets for 50 Shades of Grey.”

Walking into the theater I immediately realize that I am easily 10 years younger than any other woman there. I sat down behind three women who are older than my mother would be if she was still alive. They are tittering away excitedly, but I’m not so sure I want to watch soft porn with my grandma. A few minutes later a woman my age sits down next to me with a girl who looks like her daughter. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to watch soft porn with my daughter either.

The two young guys make their way in holding their freshly warmed over popcorn followed by a lone gentleman, I kid you not, who looks to be about 90 years old. I realize the universe could not have gathered a more non-erotic crowd if it had tried. All that’s missing is Pee Wee Herman and maybe somebody with a little baby. Fortunately neither of those things happen and the movie starts.

The Movie is Better Than the Book

This may be the first time in history when the movie is better than the book. They changed the part that was hardest for me to swallow where Ana doesn’t own a computer or have an email account. YOU CAN’T GET A COLLEGE DEGREE TODAY WITHOUT A COMPUTER AND A FUCKING EMAIL ACCOUNT! Now her computer is just broken. Other problematic parts have also been either taken out or replaced with more believable scenarios.

We quickly get to the part where Christian and Ana meet. Frankly, at this point in the story I don’t have a clue why Christian Grey falls in love with Anastasia Steele, but it’s easy to see Dakota Johnson’s appeal. Yes, like Bella, she bites her lip a lot, but she has very pretty lips and she bites them with such depth of emotion and sincerity. The same cannot be said for James Dornan’s portrayal of Christian Grey.

Get to the Sex Already!

Was the sex hot? Yes and no.

fifty-shades-greyThe scene where Ana and Christian negotiate the sex slave contract is the hottest in the movie. It’s really only then that you start to see Ana not only an equal to Christian, but possibly the one with the true upper-hand. She plays him like a fiddle.

After getting anal fisting and genital clamps crossed off the list of things she’ll agree to do, she starts describing the sort of sex they could have right there and then on Christian’s fancy conference table. Just when he thinks he’s going to get to have his way with her, Ana stands up and tells him she’ll “think about it” and walks out. Damn. That’s hot. The funny thing is that there is no actual physical sex in that scene. Maybe the director should have gone more with that.

The scenes where the self-descriptive non-lovemaking Christian Grey is making zee love with Ana are pretty decent. He sure goes down on her a lot which is nice to see. We’re seeing that a lot in movies these days which I think is a trend we all should encourage.

But in all honesty I must admit that I closed my eyes and plugged my ears during most of the BDSM sex scenes. Not because they were all that raunchy, but because I had three grandmas and a 90 year old man sitting right in front of me, and somebody’s 18-year old daughter there right next to me, and I just couldn’t cope.

Enjoying adventurous sex requires a level of intimacy from me that I simply wasn’t equipped to allow while sitting alone in that theater full of strangers. Maybe movie-goers should get a safe word too.

Personally, I think this movie will be much more fun for me when I watch it at home with my husband. Which I will. I have no doubt that the sales of FSoG once it goes to DVD will dwarf movie ticket sales because watching porn with your grandma, the PTA president, and that pesky neighbor-lady down the street just isn’t as arousing as watching it with someone who can make your every nasty fantasy come true, or at least alone with your trusty Toshiba.

The James Dornan Problem

Maybe I could have suspended disbelief more if James Dornan had tried at all to make his character believable. It’s obvious from his interviews that he holds the character in complete contempt which is all fine and noble but it made it impossible for me to care about his character much less get turned on by him.

Lines like “I don’t make love. I fuck. HARD!” were delivered with an expression so pained that I felt bad for the actor until I remembered that I’d paid him $8 to convince me that he’s actually a guy who likes fucking hard.

If the actor doesn’t believe in his character, how can I?

This is the real problem with this movie: James Dornan. Why him? Why not Ian Somerhalder who reported campaigned for the role? Why not somebody, anybody, who actually wanted to play this character? Why choose somebody who delivers all of his lines like he’s got a gerbil trying to claw its way out of his ass?

Okay, to be fair, Dornan has his moments. There are a few precious scenes where I stop seeing the pained actor and catch a of glimpse of the tortured but erotic Christian Grey. But those moments are so few and far between. Dornan does have a great ass (gerbil notwithstanding) and nice abs and he does look very believable when he’s going down on Anastasia again, and again, and again. But overall he just doesn’t do it for me in this role. And I’m not alone. Why this actor was so badly miscast in a movie that had to have had unlimited financing is one of life’s great mysteries.

The Set-Up For The Sequel. FSoG Isn’t Going Away.

The movie ends abruptly. After demanding that Christian show her his worst, he spanks her with a belt six times and she’s donesies with him. She returns his computer, the expensive first edition of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and the brand new little red Audi he bought her as a college graduation present. It was then that I understand why Christian wanted her.

Men want what they can’t have. Edward wanted Bella because she was the one person whose mind he couldn’t read. If he could have read it then he’d have known it was filled with utter nonsense, but that’s besides the point. The point is that he couldn’t and that made her novel. Men like novelty when it comes to women. I’ll betcha the other 15 subs Christian had holed up in his Red Room of Pain before Ana didn’t return his expensive presents and dump him after only six spanks with a belt.

Which leads me back to the charges that this movie promotes a rape culture. Maybe I’m blind, but I just don’t see it. Each and every single time Ana says a real no to Christian he immediately stops whatever he’s doing. While reluctant at times, which is entirely understandable, Ana wants to be tied up and ravished by Christian. What she doesn’t want is to be punished by him. That’s her hard limit. And Christian lets her go when she’s reached it.

By the end of the movie it is clear who is really in charge of this relationship, and it isn’t Christian Grey. Ana deftly turns the tables on him by not needing his money or wanting his kinky sex. What Ana wants is a little bondage with an otherwise normal boyfriend. I haven’t read Book 2 or 3, but in the sequels to come somehow I expect that it will be Christian Grey who will be getting the education and not Anastasia Steele.

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aidrouge August 20, 2015 at 10:40 am

I really don’t like writing bad reviews. I admire people who have the courage to put pen to paper and expose themselves to the whole world, especially those writing erotica. Having just finished this book, however, I feel compelled to write a review
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D. A. Wolf February 25, 2015 at 11:20 am

I haven’t read the book nor seen the movie. I’m curious, but I’m also a woman with very little free time. (If I’m going to read, I want to love every minute of it. If I’m going to see a movie, likewise.)

Like many, I’ll wait until it’s available on Netflix… Hell, it was hard enough watching Sex and the City 2 in the movie theater a few years back, because the writing was so terrible…

What isn’t terrible, as always, is your entertaining and smart approach to controversial topics. THAT… as I chuckled my way through some of your descriptions… you can take to the bank.
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Jane Gassner (@Jane_Gassner) February 19, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Ever the contrarian, I must speak up and defend the casting of Jamie Dornan. Of course I do this without having seen the movie or read the books (but some of my best friends are Christian women!). I have seen The Fall, however, which stars Gillian Anderson and an incredibly sexy Irish guy playing a serial killer/therapist/loving father of two. Much to my surprise, I learned when all the hooplah about 50SoG started that this same sexy Irish guy was playing Christian Grey. That was the first–and only–time I had any interest in seeing the movie. Then I started hearing that people complained about his casting and I thought—no, he’s perfect to carry the lead of a sympathetic sadist who hunts and kills women. To manage that feat, as he did, requires some acting chops. Why did he fail in 50SoG? Perhaps it wasn’t his disdain for the role so much as the fact that he was filming it while taking care of his newborn son. I would imagine the first days (and nights) of your first kid would trump any movie magic not to mention method acting.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 19, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Jane, he does mention over and over in his interviews that he couldn’t reconcile his new role as father of a newborn baby and playing Christian Grey. Maybe it really is just a timing thing. Maybe he was perfect for the role when he read for it, but having a baby twisted him up in a way that made it hard for him to play this character.

Either way, it showed on film how pained he was to play this guy. And it really said something to me that an actor who plays a serial killer felt this role was so “heinous” and “disgusting”. His words, not mine. Here you are trying to have a sexual fantasy and the guy charged with leading you there thinks the fantasy itself is heinous and disgusting. How can you get let yourself go with that attitude?

Maybe he’ll do better in the sequels.
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Jane Gassner February 20, 2015 at 12:06 am

With the brouhaha brewing(?) over EL James insisting she’ll write the next script which is seems to be changing the start dates, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dornan managed to pull out of the next two films. With the TV show, he wasn’t portraying someone who got off on the sex, but on the stalking and the control of his victims. As I understand it, the movie focuses totally on the sexuality of BDSM. Also, He looks different in the movie stills. Not particularly attractive at all.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 20, 2015 at 1:20 am

It’s just as well. He shouldn’t play a character that he doesn’t to enjoy. Life is too short for that.

It is funny how I find myself seemingly defending the story when it honestly wasn’t my cup of tea. I just couldn’t get my head wrapped about the heroine. And the writing is dreadful. So dreadful. So terribly, terribly dreadful.

What I am defending is the right of women to own and have their own thought lives. And that our thoughts and fantasies aren’t responsible for other people’s poor choices.
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Mona Darling February 19, 2015 at 10:26 am

“The scene where Ana and Christian negotiate the sex slave contract is the hottest in the movie. It’s really only then that you see Ana as any sort of equal to Christian. And she plays him like a fiddle. You can tell he likes it. A lot. The funny thing is that there is no actual physical sex in that scene.”

Indeed. This was the best scene in the movie. My beef with it is that it’s not about BDSM. BDSM plays a small part. Domestic violence plays a much better part. But – it’s exactly like all the bodice ripper historical novels my feminist mom read when I was a kid.

I’m glad you enjoyed it – and are open about it! I didn’t like it – but for my own reasons.

I LOVE your description about the other people there watching with you! And I love that it’s brought kinky sexuality and sexuality in general as a topic to polite society. The fact that it is starting conversations about consent is a pretty big deal.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 19, 2015 at 11:58 am

Mona, your review is one of the ones that made me want to go see it in the first place.

Christian Grey really isn’t very different from most of the other romantic heroes of the past. Filthy rick, dark, brooding, troubled, with a nasty secret from the past that only the love of a good woman can cure. He just does it all with toys you can buy from Edensfantasy.

I don’t see the domestic violence aspect which troubles me a little bit. But I never see Ana really afraid to stand up to him or afraid to leave him when it’s all gone too far. I was in one relationship where I was hit by a man and I was terrified of him. In the end, I had to escape while he was gone from the house and hide out for awhile.

I’m not suggesting that Grey is a psychologically healthy man. Or even that the sort of relationship I think they’ll have is one I’d like.

I do think it is a great thing that we can talk about these topics. That’s a huge step forward for women, in my opinion. For those of us who like a bit of kink now and then it is somehow comforting to know that we’re not as weird as we sometimes feel.
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August McLaughlin February 19, 2015 at 9:16 am

I always appreciate your openness and honesty, Chloe — and much of this resonates with me big time.

It blows my mind (no pun intended!) that we can poke fun at women’s bodies, celebrate films with mega, gratuitous violence, yet this film takes the brunt for media that contributes to rape culture. I actually found Ana’s character to be very strong, and suspect that many people aren’t comfortable with her taking pleasure in BDSM.

A lack of sex education from early on contributes to rape culture big time, yet so few discuss or see that. I’m so grateful for the conversations all of this is inspiring. The extremes are a bit scary (burning books, etc.), but wow–talk about proof of the power of stories.

Apparently Basic Instinct caused similar hullabaloo back in the day… I wonder if one day folks will wonder why there was so much controversy and resistance with Shades.

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Jill February 19, 2015 at 10:14 am

This: “It blows my mind (no pun intended!) that we can poke fun at women’s bodies, celebrate films with mega, gratuitous violence, yet this film takes the brunt for media that contributes to rape culture.” Thank you for saying it so clearly. My facebook feed is full of people ranting about the evil nature of supporting 50 Shades of Gray, as if we are viewing it in a vacuum. While there may be problematic aspects of the books and film, I’d say the lack of positive female characters in mainstream media is more so. If women and girls regularly had strong role models as examples, I don’t think this one (subpar) piece of pop culture would be so problematic.

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Chloe Jeffreys February 19, 2015 at 12:11 pm

I think you have touched on a nerve. In the movie, Ana continually confronts Grey and questions him on why he likes to do those things to her, but she never once faces the real question which is why she likes it so much?

Ana doesn’t mind the bondage–in fact she offers up her wrists for it–or the sting of the strap, which she tells him doesn’t really hurt her.

What she minds is being punished by Grey. As long as he makes it about her pleasure then she’s A-okay with it. She doesn’t get that part of his game for him is punishment. And frankly I’m with her on that. I don’t want to have sex with my daddy, and that’s a huge trigger for me anyway. But….hmmm….what does it mean about you if you like to be spanked or tied up?

It’s easy to focus on Grey’s sexual kink and call it all sorts of names, but really it’s Ana’s that’s the most interesting. I think it is wrong-headed to say that Christian is making her like this stuff just because she’s sexually inexperienced when she begins. She likes it, but didn’t know it until Grey came along and showed her.

And you are so right about our media. It’s okay to show scenes of women being degraded in a million different ways, but damn women for having any fantasies of their own.
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Linda Roy February 19, 2015 at 8:44 am

I haven’t read the books or seen the movie, but I love the fact that you compared it to Christian self-help books. Spot on. Great review – and funny.
I made the mistake of taking my mother to see Vanilla Sky years ago, so the memory of that will probably keep me out of the theater with this one.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 19, 2015 at 12:14 pm

I feel bad making it like I don’t think older people should have sexual fantasies. I don’t feel that way at all. I’m one of those older people, for gosh sakes! But that doesn’t mean I want to go watch a very special episode of Shades of Grey being shown at my local nursing home. And I was just as uncomfortable with the young woman sitting next to me.

And, yeah, I wouldn’t want my mom there either.
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stacey @nursemommylaughs February 19, 2015 at 8:41 am

I would have the same luck being surrounded by people who made me feel more uncomfortable than the movie. Just went to see “Paddington” which I’m sure is a LOT like FSoG 😉 and when my girls sent me for more popcorn, I almost stopped in to watch FSoG. I didn’t bc I was afraid me walking in would shine a big light on me and someone would recognize me there by myself binge eating popcorn. You are one brave gal!
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Chloe Jeffreys February 19, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Paddington is probably a lot like 50 Shades. That bear always did have a special gleam in his eye. And he’s English and we all know how kinky those English are.

I didn’t feel brave. But at least I feel like I have earned a right to have an opinion on this movie. I’m surprised at how many people feel so strongly about books and a movie they haven’t seen.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 18, 2015 at 1:36 pm

One thing I’d like to add is the notion that saying “stop” or “no” is sufficient for withdrawing consent. In the context of a normal date with a normal person, especially when two people don’t know each other very well, then, yes, any utterance of the word no should mean no and yes should mean yes. But within BDSM I’m not so sure this is the case or what would be the reason for safe words?

There are moments when CG talked Ana into certain sex acts by getting her so aroused that she won’t say no. But I honestly never got the feeling once that Ana didn’t want to say yes. While everyone is focused on CG’s perversion, the fact is that Ana hasn’t yet come to terms with her enjoyment of their activities. And maybe the audience hasn’t either.

The problem for sure comes with the question of whether or not men are able to understand the difference between a real no and something that’s not exactly a no, but not entirely a yes. And it would be disingenuous for us women not to admit that we have times like this. A person who loves you will step back and find out where your head is at. A jerk will not.
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Jack February 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm

I haven’t read the books and can’t imagine I’ll see the movie. Maybe it is because it just seems silly or because Dakota does nothing for me.

It just seems like much ado about nothing.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 18, 2015 at 12:42 pm

I’m afraid that I think it is too. There’s not one genuine moment of the movie where Dornan is speaking lines that is even remotely erotic, well other than the negotiation scene. All I can see that he brought to the table were nice abs and a great ass.

But you gotta admit that filling multiplexes all over the country with grandmas sidling up for a slab of soft porn has to be something.
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Jenn February 18, 2015 at 11:39 am

I haven’t read the books, and while everyone says the movie is SO much better than the book, my reason for not going is what you experienced – I’m a bit weirded out with the idea of going to the movie with someone’s nana and kid sister.

I’ll wait until it comes out on Netflix….
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Chloe Jeffreys February 18, 2015 at 12:11 pm

It’s definitely going to be better in the privacy of my own home. And my husband is so much hotter than Dornan’s Grey.

I don’t want people to think I don’t think older people should be sexual. Hell, I’m an older person who is sexual. But I wouldn’t have wanted to sit in a theater full of young people either. It’s just too intimate of a subject for me to feel comfortable watching it in a public setting. That type of sex is way too personal for me.
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Sisters From Another Mister February 18, 2015 at 10:45 am

Having very limited knowledge of either the books or the movie other than the extreme hype – have to say – great post!
In other news, a guy sent me a text message to say that I should go and watch FSOG and then come over. I texted back – not remotely on my radar … he will have to figure out what that means. lol.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 18, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Yeah, that’s just wrong on so many levels. First of all, trying to get Christian Grey’s sloppy seconds off of you is just damned lazy. If he wants to play FSoG fantasies with you then he ought to be hauling out his helicopter and taking you to dinner in Seattle or something.

I think women who are dating now must be very, very careful. Women themselves can’t explain the movie and its appeal, so I’m pretty doubtful that most men are able to appreciate the subtle nuances between erotic and creepy stalker.

I think you are wise. I’d steer clear of any man trying to drop Christian Grey’s name in the hopes of landing you in bed.
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Amy R February 18, 2015 at 10:18 am

Thank you! I appreciate you taking one for the team!

I’ve read the books, but I haven’t seen the movie. Yet. Seeing it in the theatre holds no appeal to me at all, but I do want to watch it with my hubby when it comes out on DVD.

I have two daughters, one almost 17 and an 18 year old. The one that asked me about the movie previews last week watched Dakota Johnson on David Letterman last night. She had a couple more questions that I answered truthfully, albeit vaguely. I haven’t said she can’t read the books or watch the movie, but I have strongly suggested she wait a few more years. Preferably until after marriage… :o)

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Chloe Jeffreys February 18, 2015 at 12:19 pm

You’re welcome. I felt like I was taking one for the team.

The subject matter is very personal to me which is why it felt so uncomfortable experiencing it in a large room filled with total strangers.

I am interested in whether Dornan will come off better at home as well. He clearly did not enjoy playing this role which is sad for him since he’s got to do it at least two more times, that’s if they don’t find a way to make the 3rd movie into a two-parter.
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Beverly Diehl February 18, 2015 at 9:55 am

Every still of this movie that I’ve seen of Dornan’s face, he doesn’t look stern or powerful to me, he looks constipated. Hard for me to be impressed with the smokin’ hotness of someone I want to offer a laxative to.

As a dabbler in the BDSM world, with friends who are professionals, yep, they pretty much hate the way their world is distorted in FSOG. Imagine if you volunteer for the Humane Society, and people said, “Oh, just like those little old ladies who live in a one bedroom apartment with 60 cats?” No. No. Not. The. Same. Thing.

I’ve heard from other people who enjoyed the movie, or the book, and I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade. But I think it speaks to how invisible certain unhealthy relationship patterns are, that so many people, who go to a movie, LOOKING for it, still don’t see it, especially when wrapped in an attractive guy.

If some schlubby guy you’d met once showed up at your job the next day, you’d be calling the cops and screaming STALKER (I hope). If he stole your car & bought you something HE thought you should drive, that should send up red flags all over the place. If you asked to take some time to think about your relationship and he followed you across the country, I hope you would say, oh, HELL no, we are DONE. Without needing to be beaten with a belt first.

Yes, it’s just a movie. But “each and every time Ana says a real no” – who gets to determine it’s a “real no”? The guy who wants to fuck her, hard? The argument in rape culture that is made over and over again, is that “her mouth said no, but her body was saying yes.” The culture of consent says, the only yes is YES. Not maybe, not no + inviting body language, because body language can be misinterpreted. Only yes, or, preferably, HELL Yes! = Yes.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 18, 2015 at 12:31 pm

I see your point. And it concerns me that if women themselves can’t really articulate the appeal of this movie very well how well will men pick up the subtle nuances?

Make no mistake, this is a sick and dysfunctional relationship and it isn’t even the BDSM that is the worst part. Christian Grey is one fucked up dude.

The larger and far more dangerous fantasy in my mind is telling young women that you can fix him. That’s my point about Christian marriage self-help books. They are filled with advice that if you only give him more sex and give him more submission then he’ll be fixed and turn into your knight in shining armor. And it does not work that way.

And you are a million times correct about the fact that if this guy wasn’t very, very rich he’d be one scary dude. Just ask Katie Holmes about rich, scary dudes who show up all in love with you and take over your life.

But here’s the good thing. Because of this movie we older women who have some life experience now get to talk to our young women about it. We get to say, “Yeah, it’s hot to think these fantasies, but in reality this is how this really goes down.” It’s okay to fantasize about these things, but these are the red flags that will lead you to a life of misery down the road.

I think the fact that we are getting to talk about this stuff now out in the open makes this a good thing even if the story itself is disturbing.

The Story of O is very disturbing. I don’t see the point at which O really gives her consent to end up utterly annihilated. Beauty in The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy lands on her feet, but there’s never a time where she’s asked for her consent either. I do think it is a bit disingenuous to say that power relationships in literature always include full disclosure and consent. Maybe in the dungeon they do, but in fantasy novels or real life? I remain unconvinced. These fantasies are here for a reason. What that reason means I still don’t really know.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 18, 2015 at 2:09 pm

And I really ought to clarify the no part. I cannot speak for the books, because I don’t remember, but I don’t think Anastasia every says no except for the times its a real no. She hems or haws and sometimes has to be talked into stuff, but she doesn’t actually say no at any point and he just does it anyway. I’m guessing the director was sensitive to that issue since if it happened even fans, which I don’t count myself on of, by the way, would have a hard time watching.

It’s one thing to read a fantasy and quite another to see it played out before.
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Julie DeNeen February 18, 2015 at 9:38 am

I couldn’t wait for your review. That you compared FsoG to marriage self-help books is hilarious…and brilliant.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 18, 2015 at 12:36 pm

I can’t help but see it. I started to include a bunch of quotes from some of the best sellers in the Christian marriage self-help genre, but this thing was already way too long.

It’s really interesting to me, especially since I keep reading Christian women saying that they would never want their daughters to be in a relationship like Anastasia and Christian’s. And why not? Isn’t he the perfect Christian husband? Well, he will be once Ana fixes him. And isn’t that part of the fantasy too? That we can fix him with our magic vaginas and our total submission?
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