Category Archives: feminism
Well I’m blogging again. I planned to start blogging for NEDA (National Eating Disorder Awareness) Week next week but I’ve decided to start early and wade into the discussion on Fifty Shades of Grey (probably regrettably) but here it goes…
Many women celebrate Fifty Shades of Grey because it breaks barriers and says that sex is not bad and women can enjoy it. I’d be all for the book/movie IF this is the only thing they are saying. As a survivor of a relationship that was controlling, manipulating and abusive I see many red flags in Anastasia’s relationship with Christian Grey. So many things that were in my relationship with my abuser. The power, the control. The things that are perceived as sweet and protective but are really about ownership and controlling every detail in a woman’s life. Yes, you man argue that Christian did it out of love. But love doesn’t excuse this type of behavior. If a woman arrived at a shelter describing a husband who controlled her finances, showed up at her place or work or recreation unannounced, utilized tracking devices on her phone, when she was unconscious undressed her and put her to bed (regardless of whether or not he had sex with her), and continued to have sex with her even when she said no many times it would be described as abuse. In fact it might be enough to get a restraining order.
It doesn’t bother me one bit if a couple chooses to engage in BDSM and it wouldn’t bother me one bit if a book chose to describe this as long as the relationship between the two people was healthy. But the reality is that Anastasia’s and Christian’s relationship is not. The type of relationship that is described in Fifty Shades of Grey is not healthy nor should it be perceived as normal and it bothers me very much that millions of women are buying into the idea that it is.
I worry that young people who see this movie (and we all know they will) will think that this type of a relationship is normal and wind up in abusive relationships themselves but excuse all of the behavior because they believe they are living their own fairy tale and can “tame the beast”. It doesn’t work that way. Relationships like this end with heartbreak and hurt sexually, emotionally and physically. It can take years of therapy to move past them. Fifty Shades of Grey normalizes abuse and this, not the sex, is what is so concerning. I wonder that if I had read the book or seen the movie six years ago would I have found the strength to break up with my abuser or would I have seen his behavior as even more normal and I even more as the one with the problem. I certainly think it’s more than likely. I wonder how many women will stay with their abusers in part because of this film. I don’t think I exaggerate when I say this. Films and books especially popular ones influence culture in many ways. And I think Fifty Shades of Grey contribution to society is to normalize abuse and that is extremely frightening.
*I know not everyone will agree with me. Many of you won’t in fact. Share your opinion if you would like. I’d love to hear it. I have a hard time comprehending that this relationship can be seen as anything as abusive but if you don’t think it is I’d love to hear why.
There is a movement going around mainly on twitter with the hashtag #whyistayed. This is referring to women who stayed in abusive relationships. The movement started after Ray Rice, a NFL football player was caught on tape beating his wife. The media began criticizing and shaming the woman for not leaving him. And so they hashtag #whyistayed was born and thousands of women joined in by sharing the reasons why they stayed in an abusive relationship. And so here is Why I Stayed…
#whyistayed: because he threatened to commit suicide if I left him.
#whyistayed: because he told me and I believed him that no one else would ever love me like he did.
#whyistayed: because I felt like the only way to atone for my “sins” (they were his but he made them mine) was to marry him one day.
#whyistayed: because I was alone on a college campus where I knew no one and had no support for the first part of our relationship and then it was too late.
#whyistayed: because I had been taught my by male peers in high school that this was what I was to expect out of men.
#whyistayed: because I didn’t know if I could handle how I would feel leaving him.
#whyistayed: because my world was about his world. I had no true identity.
#whyistayed: I was scared.
And this is why I left…
#whyileft: I had wonderful roommates who encouraged me to do so.
#whyileft: He took things one step too far and I was finally able to see something wasn’t right.
#whyileft: I found some courage I didn’t know I had.
#whyileft: I was exhausted.
#whyileft: I didn’t want his version of the future anymore
#whyileft: I finally was able to see past the deception, the lies and tight control he had threaded around me for just long enough to make the decision to break up with him and then have friends hold me accountable.
People tell me I’m a smart person. Yet, I fell prey to an abuser. One who charmed most people he met and had no idea what went on in our relationship. And couldn’t believe it even when they heard bits and pieces of it. And I couldn’t leave. It’s not so simple as breaking up with a person or packing your bags and moving out. There is so much more to an abusive relationship than that. Remember it is a relationship. A malfunctioning one but one. And there are good moments as well as bad. And sometimes it’s easy to tell yourself the good outweighs the bad. It also takes time and sometimes outside support to find the courage to leave.
So don’t judge. Unless you have been in a toxic relationship you cannot understand. You can try, you can listen, you can emphasize but do not judge those women and men who did not leave after the first blow was thrown or the first signs of abuse. It is not that simple.
I was at a women’s health fair this past weekend and I stopped by the domestic violence/sexual assault prevention and support booth. I picked up little ribbons that signified support and somehow ended up telling the women there that I had PTSD from being abused. This was a big step for me. One to admit it out loud and two to tell someone else. What happened next though stunned me more and it’s something I have been left thinking about since then.
The woman who runs the center responded to my telling her of my history by saying – “oh you’re a survivor!”. This completely stopped me in my tracks. A survivor? Me. No certainly not. I don’t deserve to have that title. Plus to say you are a survivor means that you had to have survived something significant. Yes I was abused and yes I’m here but survived it…that makes it sound like it was important or something.
I have a hard time wrapping my head around these facts. Denial? Yes, most defiantly. I’ve been in enough therapy to know it when I see it. I don’t know if I’m ready to look at my past and see it for what it was. At times I am. I can sometimes say parts of it out loud like I did initially to the woman but then I balk and retreat away from my story.
I’m closer to accepting it and being able to process it in therapy than I ever have been before. Perhaps it’s time to start that work. I’ve done very little trauma work.. And so I leave for Wichita in a few hours (psychiatrist, dietitian and therapist) and perhaps today in my session I’ll start talking. And if I go in with at least somewhat of the beginnings of the belief that I am a survivor it will go that much better.