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Fifty Shades of Grey

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Dr. Meg Meeker

Move over Red, the new color for Valentine’s Day is GREY.

The movie, 50 Shades of Grey, hits theaters February 13, 2014.  This movie follows the trilogy that has sold over 70 million copies, worldwide. An innocent college student, Anastasia falls for a suave, handsome and smooth talking billionaire Christian Grey. The story line hooks every romantic who longs for this nice girl to win the hurting, lonely man who “can’t do love and romance” over to the light side and out of the dark. We want the innocent girl to win the bad boy but the problem is, that’s just the beginning. Christian Grey seduces Anastasia into darkness so deep and lurid that, as much as we want to believe that no one really participates in this kind of stuff, we become fools because the reality is they do. Try reading Stolen by Katariina Rosenblatt, PhD about the very real sex trafficking of girls in the U.S. Are you ready to be entertained by something that is wrecking lives of innocent girls beneath our very noses? We can say the story line justifies the sick behavior but who cares? What makes the story so popular is just that; a “romantic” story line between the good girl and bad boy who is pretty darn attractive.

Women-sane, clear-thinking, smart women- are hooked on this twisted story because it combines just the right amount of hope and goodness that we put up with the trash. But we mustn’t ignore that the trash not only stinks, it hurts people very badly. The least offense is that all who watch become desensitized to the marriage of sex and violence and the worst is that young girls may be sexually violated even more than they currently are. So, in the name of entertainment, are we really willing to risk that?

And that is exactly what we do when we watch “Mommy porn” as the trilogy has been dubbed. No matter our excuses for being entertained by Mr. Grey, we must be willing to admit that since we are supporting the normalization of sick pornography, then we are in part responsible for the fallout on our kids and our society. The truth is, the vast majority of healthy women are not going to start engaging in sadomasochistic sex, but that’s not the point. Supporting the movie  ushers in public acceptance of a darker layer of pornography that will inevitably change all who watch and even many who don’t.

But I’m not here to pass judgment on any of you who like the stuff. I’m writing to talk about the effects of this movie on our kids. There is no question that any child under 25 who sees this movie will be negatively affected by it. Young boys will see graphic S+M and be titillated by it. They will come to understand that on some level, it’s OK. After all, Christian Grey, whose money, looks and lifestyle appeal to them, does it. And young girls, simply by seeing it on a screen that is larger than life, will see that if a cool, attractive man behaves this way toward a lovely innocent girl, maybe that’s OK for them too. Why not? Many young girls won’t have a father to go home to who will tell them otherwise.

Then there are those who pretend that watching bad behaviors in media doesn’t cause kids to imitate those behaviors. Really? The research tells us otherwise. The link between boys watching or playing violent video games and aggressive behavior later in life is rock solid. And the studies looking at teens that watch sex in media engage in sex earlier in life and take greater sexual risks is equally as solid. That means, parents, that we can fully expect that teens who watch 50 Shades will be at higher risk for imitating the S+M sexual behavior. Furthermore, studies have clearly shown that reading or watching pornography is intimately tied up in child abuse. Before he died, the infamous Ted Bundy said that pornography played a significant role in his sexual violence against and murder of women. No, not everyone who reads or watches porn becomes a child or woman abuser but the link between pornography and sexual violence against women and children is clear.

Some defend the movie, clarifying that it was not meant to be seen by teens. But we all know better. Any child who can navigate a channel changer can see whatever he wants. So here’s the challenge for each adult struggling to defend anything about the movie. If you watch it, you are communicating to your children that as far as you are concerned, pornography, is fine if it is watched by adult and in the proper context. To a child this means, it’s okay if Mom (or Dad) sees pornography, but it’s not OK for her until she’s older. I don’t know about you, but I am never willing to intentionally do something that a) embarrasses my kids or b.) causes them to say to me when they are older, “Mom, what in the world were you thinking?”

I know that many of you will be mad at this post so I ask you to dig deeply and ask what makes you mad. Is it because you disagree or because you know that what you want to see really does hurt women and children? Of course we have the right to see what we want and I don’t argue that. But we must always remember that our right to be entertained by certain things- like 50 Shades of Grey– may cost innocent people a lot of pain.

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