Featured Image
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan star in the sequel to the first 50 Shades of Grey movie.

Feb. 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Universal Pictures released what is supposed to pass for a “romance” in the age of hardcore porn: Fifty Shades Darker, the follow-up to the 2015 softcore porn blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey.

Critics have been generally scathing—it’s almost amusing to watch them struggle to employ their significant vocabularies in reviewing a long-form porno disguised as a film with a story—while audiences, as usual, have gobbled it up. John Nolte over at the Daily Wire called it an insidious piece of “propaganda” that “tells the impressionable that it is an act of YouGoGirl empowerment to allow a man to manipulate you, to psychologically cage you, to sexually degrade you…[this film] is the biggest gift anyone could give to Men Who Treat Women Like Meat.”

That pretty much sums it up. From what I’ve gleaned from the reviews, Fifty Shades Darker accomplishes precisely what the predecessor porno and the original smut novels did: the glorification and mainstreaming of bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism (BDSM), which it has the brazen nerve to refer to as a “love story.” As she was previously, the heroine of the story is stalked, controlled, beaten, tortured, and psychologically manipulated.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

I’ve written multiple columns on the Fifty Shades phenomenon in the past, and I only revisit the topic for two reasons: First, many Christians have defended the books online as a legitimate source of entertainment; and second, the franchise has gone a long way in bringing the idea that causing people pain in the sexual or romantic context is a legitimate pursuit. This is obviously dangerous for a whole array of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Fifty Shades is a softcore gateway drug to an exploding genre of hardcore porn portraying the most viscerally violent acts of physical, emotional, and verbal degradation against women. Inside the Trojan horse of “romance film” is a brutal new ideology of sex that amounts to hatred against women.

RELATED: Even the co-stars think ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is awful (and maybe even a bit like Hitler)

Even genuinely liberal journalists understand the danger of the BDSM trend. William Saletan of wrote an extensive analysis several years when Fifty Shades first exploded onto the scene, explaining why he believes that this trend won’t take off—and articulating many compelling reasons why the “sex-positive” activists pushing for public acceptance of their proclivities are dead wrong, even as they try to don the mantle used so successfully by the LGBT movement:

Political advocates for BDSM see themselves as successors to the gay rights movement. They cite Lawrence v. Texas. They call themselves “sexual minorities” and depict kink as a “sexual orientation.” They seek “legitimacy” by bringing BDSM “into the mainstream eye.” They ask to be “accepted,” “validated,” and “normalized.” They wonder, according to the Times, whether “they are approaching a time when they, like the LGBT community before them, can come out and begin living more open, integrated lives.”

I wonder what an “open” and “integrated” life looks like for a BDSM advocate. The ability to casually mention how much you enjoy whipping people or using various torture devices at a cocktail party without the unfortunate recipient of this information becoming immediately repulsed? Having backwards and repressed fathers re-educated into the realization that they should be entirely willing to welcome men who get off on causing their daughters pain into the family?

Saletan, fortunately, is optimistic—a bit too optimistic, in my opinion—that BDSM will never become that mainstream:

S&M, by its nature, hurts people…for sadomasochists, pain is the whole idea. Some stick to spatulas and wooden spoons, but others move on to electric shocks, skewers, knives, and butterfly boards. Women who do S&M porn scenes have described electrical burns, permanent scars from beatings, and penetrations that required vaginal reconstructive surgery. While these injuries were accidental, the BDSM subculture doesn’t regard intentional harm as wrong. According to the “Statement on Consent” developed by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, injury is wrong only if it “was not anticipated and consented to.” The coalition hopes to embed this principle in law, “ensuring that consent will be recognized as a defense to criminal charges brought under assault laws.”

Let’s leave aside the fact that some former members of these bizarre communities have admitted that every single woman they know has suffered some form of sexual assault from these practices, and let’s leave aside the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey is not a great way to describe a law. When assault is no longer assault and the flimsy barrier of “consent” – with complete disregard to the psychological manipulation that is an inherent part of this movement – is all that stands between sexually predatory people and their restrained victims, we have created an extraordinarily dangerous situation. Saletan lays this out with remarkable clarity:

BDSM can be quite dangerous. Responsible practitioners insist it must be “safe, sane, and consensual.” But it attracts people who like to push boundaries. Some submissives are adrenaline junkies: They don’t believe in safety. Recently, several men have admitted to or have been charged with or convicted of crimes including sexual abuse, kidnapping, and murder, all under the cover of BDSM. These men don’t represent BDSM, but they do represent the far end of sadism. On BDSM sites, you’ll find harrowing fetishes such as immersion water bondage and breath play, which some community leaders consider inherently unsafe. Even a standard ball gag can kill the victim by triggering regurgitation.

Believe it or not, it gets worse. Even pro-BDSM activist admit that people can get so badly beaten into disorientation that they can’t employ their so-called “safe word,” which is routinely ignored anyways:

The core ethical principle of BDSM is consent. But given the underlying dynamics—one person who wants to dominate, another who wants to be dominated—consent often blurs. BDSM attracts masochists whose boundaries can be pushed. It attracts sadists who like to push those boundaries. According to the New York Observer, “In the last year, hundreds of people have come forward to describe the abuse they’ve suffered within the scene. … The stories ranged from more benign assaults (unwanted groping) to tales of being drugged and raped.” In a survey by NCSF, more than 30 percent of BDSM participants reported that their pre-negotiated limits on violence or domination had been breached. The coalition’s spokeswoman concluded: “There is still confusion between consensual BDSM and assault.”

Well you don’t say. It’s almost as if the “core ethical principle” of BDSM isn’t consent. This should be obvious to anyone who is thinking with their brain and not their libido. When did “sadism” become a thing that we considered allowing into the bedroom? And when did feminism become so hijacked by “sex-positive” perverts that such things are even up for consideration? Saletan sums up the inherent conflict between basic and humane principles of decency and the repugnant ideology of BDSM:

While reformers in India battle a culture of rape, Indian BDSM advocates extol the bliss of female masochism. While human rights activists denounce caning and waterboarding, BDSM lecturers teach the joys of caning and waterboarding. Abduction, slavery, humiliation, torture—everything we condemn outside the world of kink is celebrated within it.

The Fifty Shades franchise is not just pornography, although it certainly is that. It is a major coup for those who are attempting to mainstream the sorts of sexual savagery that Saletan so bluntly describes. Hundreds of thousands of teenage boys and girls are flocking into theatres to watch a horror movie dressed up as a love story. Boys are being led to believe that inflicting pain on girls is acceptable, even sexy, and girls are learning that this is something that is normal, and thus something they should expect and accept in a “romantic” relationship. I’m not exaggerating or fearmongering when I say that this franchise is deadly dangerous, and that real people are already suffering enormously from its impact.

RELATED: The real reason 50 Shades is so wildly popular (HINT: It’s not the sex)

This should be obvious. I shouldn’t have to say it. But I will, one more time: Please, please don’t read these books. Please don’t watch these films. Don’t send the message to your partner that sadism is romantic. Don’t send the message to your children that inflicting pain is sexy. And if the topic surfaces at home, take the opportunity to explain what real love looks like.

Featured Image

Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.


Commenting Guidelines
LifeSiteNews welcomes thoughtful, respectful comments that add useful information or insights. Demeaning, hostile or propagandistic comments, and streams not related to the storyline, will be removed.

LSN commenting is not for frequent personal blogging, on-going debates or theological or other disputes between commenters.

Multiple comments from one person under a story are discouraged (suggested maximum of three). Capitalized sentences or comments will be removed (Internet shouting).

LifeSiteNews gives priority to pro-life, pro-family commenters and reserves the right to edit or remove comments.

Comments under LifeSiteNews stories do not necessarily represent the views of LifeSiteNews.