50 shades of Grey and why its popularity confuses me

50 shades of Grey why is it so popularI have some amazing friends (yes, I really do have friends) who are looking forward to going to the cinema this weekend. Comments from my friends on social media who are going so far have all come from women who have also all mentioned that they can’t wait to see Mr Grey on the big screen.

The whole 50 shades phenomenon is proof that sex sells and the label of ‘mummy porn’ feels like a good description of what it is. It is pornographic but it is also mainstream and popular which results in more people feeling comfortable about reading it and being open about the fact that they are reading it.

We are a sex obsessed society but what confuses me about 50 shades is that people are being drawn to something that appears to be about an abusive and controlling relationship. In an interview, Jamie Dornan, the actor who plays Christian Grey, talked about how he struggled with the rough nature of the sex scenes. He says that,

‘He found it extremely difficult to beat up on his co-star during the rough-and-tumble bedroom scenes. “If I was about to be doing something particularly heinous to Dakota [Johnson, who plays Anastasia Steele], I would apologize in advance and say, ‘I’m probably not going to derive a huge amount of pleasure out of this.’ Source.

Sex is great but abusive sex which involves beating someone up is wrong.

Sex is great but sex with someone against their will is wrong.

Being in a relationship is great but being in a relationship with someone who controls and manipulates you is a really bad idea.

So, to all my friends who are fans of 50 shades, can you see my dilemma.

I’ve not read the books and I won’t be going to see the film but I find the issues that the story raises disturbing.

It seems really bizarre that you can write a book about someone who stalks, manipulates and abuses someone and that women seem to idolize and be drawn to the character.

Why are people drawn to him?

Does the fact that he is rich and handsome mean that you could turn a blind eye to his abusive and controlling nature? Do people really want to be subdued, dominated and controlled?

Why is violent sex seen as good or desirable? I believe that God created sex and it is a great thing to enjoy. Sex should be about pleasure, love and intimacy and violence should have no place within sex or relationships. I don’t believe that sex is just a physical act, just something we do for fun. I think it should be enjoyed within a committed relationship between two people who choose to be intimate as a part of that committed and loving lifelong relationship.

Are people drawn to Mr Grey because they are so dissatisfied with their own sex life? Are we being fooled by that age old lie that the grass is always greener on the other side? Do we really believe that everyone is having great sex all of the time and that if we could just add a bit of slap and tickle into our own sex lives then we could be having great sex all the time too?

The lie that everyone is having great sex all of the time is so obviously a lie but people buy into it and feel discouraged as a result because they feel like they are missing out. In real life people may be too tired, too ill, too stressed or too busy having fun in other ways to have sex.

Sex should be great and it should be enjoyable. Sex is good but I am so sad at what society is twisting it into. I find the way that porn has become normal for many people disturbing. If I watch porn or sexually desire people other than my wife then how does that make her feel? If I continually talk about how attractive someone else is, then it can only result in humiliation for her. I want to desire my wife, not other people. I want her to know that she is beautiful and that I desire her. I do not want to focus on a way of thinking that causes me to dwell on how attractive other people are.

I hate the way that porn is designed to make you feel like everyone wants to have sex all the time. I hate the way that porn causes people to see other people as physical objects rather than people. I hate the way that it can be normal within porn to have women wearing school uniforms. I hate the way that porn degrades women and yet it is seen as normal and even healthy by some people.

Porn is a form of advertising. Advertising is designed to leave us dissatisfied, for example if you advertise a particular car and continually say how good the car is then people watching will eventually want the car. If someone views porn on a regular basis then it will result in their real relationships being damaged. You see, I wish people could grasp that porn isn’t real. To compare your spouse or partner to a porn star just isn’t fair because that porn star is acting. People who fantasize about being in a relationship with someone they have seen on the screen or in a magazine need to realize that they are desiring a character that person is playing, not the person that they really are.

The issue of acting brings us back to 50 shades. The quote I referred to earlier from Jamie Dornan shows his discomfort at the nature of the sex and violence in the film. People who watch the film and lust after him are lusting after the portrayal of a character, not a real person. On this basis, some may argue that watching 50 shades is okay because after all we all know it’s not real don’t we. The trouble is that it is real for many people who suffer abuse every day. I find it hard to believe that anyone who has ever suffered abuse or who has known someone who has lived in an abusive relationship could enjoy 50 shades. Spare a thought for people who have escaped abusive relationships as they put up with all the advertising for 50 shades. Pray for them as they are forced to relive their pain.

The popularity of 50 shades leaves me confused.

The popularity of sex reminds of what a great and awesome creator we have. God has designed and given it to us as a gift to enjoy within a loving and committed relationship.

About honestaboutmyfaith

Hi, my name is Graeme and I’m married to a very patient wife. We have 4 children, 2 rabbits, a terrapin (and not a lot of peace and quiet!). I’m a Regional Minister for the Eastern Baptist Association in the UK (the views expressed in this blog are my own) and I am especially interested in making Church accessible to people who have no church background and also in how we disciple people in order to equip them to live out their faith in the 21st Century.
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