I watched The Grammy Awards on television Sunday night. About mid-way through, I saw my President encourage all of us to create awareness and help women out of violent relationships. His message was followed by a moving statement from domestic violence survivor Brooke Axtell and Katy Perry’s performance of her song “By the Grace of God”, which she admits is autobiographical and which alludes to suicidal thoughts because of abuse. In it, she sings these words:
“By the grace of God (there was no other way)
I picked myself back up (I knew I had to stay)
I put one foot in front of the other
And I looked in the mirror and decided to stay
Wasn’t gonna let love take me out that way.”
All this filled my TV screen as I was doing internet research for this blog on the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey”. (If you do that, be prepared for the web sites you’ll be offered as you search.)
I had to wonder, am I the only person who sees the sad irony in this very commendable Grammy performance coming days before the Valentine’s Day opening of a much-heralded, pornographic movie about sado-masochism and abuse?
Neither our President nor Katy Perry referred to the very obvious contradictory message displayed in the popular book and upcoming movie “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I only wish they had been so brave. In my opinion, what the producer of The Grammy Awards Show, our President and the performers did was to offer little more than a placating (though effective) gesture to those who believe “Grey” is glamorizing sexual violence.
For anyone unaware (as I was until I did the research), “FSOG” tells the story of a man who seduces a young woman and lures her into violent sexual acts. His actions are justified because he was abused as a teen, and the story is all wrapped up with a redemptive outcome.
Opening on Valentine’s Day, it’s expected to be a sell-out.
A month ago, a young relative of mine proudly boasted in social media that she had her tickets for “Fifty Shades of Grey” reserved in advance. My heart broke for this intelligent young woman who has bought the hype.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. On Valentine’s Day, too many young couples will spend date night watching pornography. And they’ll come away believing this is love.
For three years, I worked with local youth to produce a drama about teen dating violence. We took the drama to local high schools, churches and youth groups and presented it in a public performance. Along the way, I heard stories from teens about ways they had been abused in dating relationships — mentally, emotionally, physically and sexually.
And now we, the supposedly responsible adults, are telling them that such abuse is excusable, even desirable, depending on the circumstances.Sexual abuse and violence in the name of love are never excusable or desirable. #50ShadesIsAbuse Click To Tweet
There are several ways we can work to counter the damage that will be done by “FSOG”.
- Boycott the movie. Better yet, spend your money on a campaign to help women escape abusive relationships. Run by www.stoppornculture.org, the campaign’s Facebook page suggests making donations to domestic-violence shelters instead of going to see the movie, because “Hollywood doesn’t need your money; abused women do.” If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtags #50DollarsNot50Shades and #50ShadesIsAbuse to protest the movie.
- Educate yourself. We need to be able to discuss the topic intelligently and learn how to combat the movie’s negative impact. Many others have crafted well-written instructions for overcoming the effects of this movie’s publicity campaign on those who won’t even see the movie — our children. Two excellent places to go for information are an article at www.movieguide.org by Michelle S. Lazurek and a series of articles on how to talk to our children about violent sex by Miriam Grossman at www.miriamgrossmanmd.com. For another woman’s perspective, visit www.bronlea.com. Another very informative piece is found at www.foxnews.com.
- Talk openly with your children and grandchildren about sex. If they walk through a shopping mall, watch television or pick up a magazine, they’re going to see explicit sexual images. The ongoing conversation about this book and movie has added to the need to address the subject of sexual sin with our children and grandchildren. You have no choice but to meet it head on. (I plan to share more about this in a future blog about pornography.)
- Support an alternative to “FSOG”. If you want to go to a movie next weekend, consider “Old Fashioned”, “a romance about Clay, a former frat dude who meets a free-spirited young woman named Amber. He’s interested in her, but turned off by the modern mores of dating. He wants to date in an old-fashioned (read chaste) way.” (Source: www.cinemablend.com). The movie is purposely timed to compete with “FSOG” and is openly promoted as a Christian movie that “offers a romance where sex will wait until marriage and God is a crucial part of its hero’s journey. It’s an approach that (producer/director/star) Rik Swartzwelder realizes will limit the audience of his movie. But–he argues in Old Fashioned‘s preamble–it’s a movie he feels needed to be made.”
The worst thing we can do as moral individuals in a culture that glamorizes abuse is to deny the attitude exists. It obviously does. Turning our backs will not prevent this movie’s message from impacting our world.
I’m sharing these thoughts today at www.blessedbutstressed.com.
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