When the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trailer dropped this summer, my feed on social media exploded with excitement for the film. Under different circumstances, I would be more than happy to rejoice with these women about a movie that focuses on female sexuality. But Fifty Shades is a poor representation of women – or one woman, the protagonist of the novel and film adaptation Anastasia Steele – embracing her sexuality in an empowering way.
But instead Steele engages in sexual activities with Christian Grey – the tortured, brooding male lead millionaire – that are both creepy and at times non-consensual. Raunchy scenes that have women across the country getting hot and bothered are rape scenes because the sex is not consensual.
I genuinely hope many people didn’t find the famously disgusting tampon scene in the book to be appealing. During this scene, Steele is on her period but Grey still wants to have sex. Instead of asking Steele what she wants, Grey removes her tampon and turns her around without her consent. It doesn’t matter that Steele never said no – what matters is that she never said yes. When engaging in any kind of sexuality activity, there always needs to be enthusiasm from both partners about what’s going to happen.
While the tampon scene is the worst of the worst, the gross factor doesn’t stop there. After Steele is upset that Grey likes her because she looks like his dead mother – seriously, this guy has issues he needs to sort out with a therapist not a slam piece – Steele attempts to tell Grey that she doesn’t want to have sex right now. He doesn’t listen, and they then proceed to have more sex that isn’t consensual.
Even outside of the bedroom, Grey is controlling, manipulative, and just down right abusive. The abuse in the bedroom is masqueraded as BDSM, but Fifty Shades does a terrible job at showing what BDSM is really like. Those that often participate in being a dominatrix or partaking as the submissive role aren’t actually disturbed or damaged from their past like Grey is. That’s a myth perpetuated to explain behavior that can be seen as outside of the norm.
But this archetype male lead who is not only rich and handsome, but is burdened by a dark past and needs to be saved is not a healthy idea that is being perpetuated. This character has been scene in “Twilight” with Edward Cullen – which 50 Shades was based off of – as well as Chuck Bass from “Gossip Girl.”
“Twilight” has fallen from favor in the public eye, but plenty of people still get excited about the dreamy Chuck Bass and his passionate, undying love for Blair Waldorf. I’ll admit, even though I was never a “Twilight” enthusiast I used to fan girl over Chuck Bass. That is before he tried to sell Blairs’ body in order to keep a hotel. I wanted to continue to root for him, but I knew that in my mind I couldn’t.
The thing is, maybe on the CW guys like Chuck Bass change and evolve to be become better men. Now I’m not saying that people can’t change, but realistically any guy like Bass in real life is never going to change.
Even though Grey and Cullen aren’t representations of a healthy relationship, there are fictional couples that are loving and just downright adorable.
This pair from “Parks and Recreation” is one of my favorites. April Ludgate (actress Aubrey Plaza) and Andy Dwyer (actor Chris Pratt) are the kind of couple that just enjoy being together. Their marriage has survived long-distance relationships, when April went to Washington, D.C. to intern for a congressman and Andy lived in England for a job opportunity, with relative ease because they both trust each other.
Okay, okay I’m throwing it back in time for this pair, but Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) were one of the better relationships on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” While Willow was sprawling out of control because she was using magic too much (hey, it is “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), Tara left her in hopes that she would get better. Willow worked on getting better – with some mishaps – in hopes of getting Tara back.
While “The How I Met Your Mother” series finale may be the sloppiest, worst finale in the history of television (okay, I’m embellishing), Lily and Marshall stayed strong. They had their problems and one break up during the shows run but they worked it out because they wanted to be together.
Ashley Sprouse is a chai tea addict and boston terrier enthusiast. When she isn’t counting down the days to her 21st birthday, she can be found eating pizza or walking her dog around campus. She is a Columnist at CisternYard News and freelance writer at Charleston City Paper. You can follow her on Twitter @ashleyysprouse, but you can’t follow her on Tumblr. Just because she doesn’t understand how to use Tumblr.