Jonathon van Maren

From the front lines of the culture wars

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'Then he starts doing absolutely horrific sexual things to her … He gradually moves her boundaries, normalising the violence against her.'

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Really? You need more reasons not to watch 50 Shades of Grey? Fine. Here they are.

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with commentator Mark Steyn on my radio show, and since the topic was the decline of Western culture, the conversation inevitably wandered over to disgraced CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi.

Ghomeshi is a supposedly sensitive feminist who, it turns, out, got his jollies from beating up women. Or as Steyn put it, Ghomeshi was one of today’s “great pansified eunuch men” whose proclivities tended towards “breaking a CBC intern’s jaw.” While the outrage against Ghomeshi’s behavior has been swift and loud, I noted with irritation that the second 50 Shades of Grey trailer has still exploded across the Internet and clogged social media feeds. Our collective disapproval of abusing women, it turns out, is pathetically short-lived.

The cultural cognitive dissonance between our supposedly enlightened attitudes towards gender and our rampant consumption of violent pornography and bizarre acceptance of violent sexual behaviors never ceases to amaze me. I’ve written on a lot of controversial topics over the last few years, but the columns I’ve written on the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon have by far created the most backlash, from Christians and non-Christians alike.

We say that it is wrong to beat up women. And the pornogogues of the Sexual Revolution respond: “Well, she asked for it.” These women and girls are just more of the human rubble of the Revolution. 

So for those of you who have watched the movie trailers with relish and are planning to go see the film, let me just add a few reasons to reject this reprehensible lifestyle and worldview out of hand.

For example, recent studies have indicated that young women who read the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy are more likely to suffer domestic abuse and eating disorders. While defenders of this type of torture porn have protested that the books can’t be blamed, Ann Bonomi, who is a professor and researcher with the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University, strongly disagrees.

“If women experienced adverse health behaviors such as disordered eating first, reading Fifty Shades might reaffirm those experiences and potentially aggravate related trauma,” she said. “Likewise, if they read Fifty Shades before experiencing the health behaviors seen in our study, it’s possible the books influenced the onset of these behaviors.”

(To sign a petition pledging to boycott 50 Shades of Grey, the movie, click here.) 

Indeed, many advocates for victims of domestic violence have come out against the 50 Shades phenomenon. Clare Phillipson of Wearside Women in Need, which is a charity for victims, is nothing short of furious at the book’s popularity, referring to it as a “manual for sexual torture.”

“There will be a whole generation of young women hearing the women around them say: ‘What a great book,’ a generation of 13-and 14-year-olds picking it up and thinking, ‘This is all right,” Phillipson noted. “We are saying, could people try reading it again and thinking: ‘What is this man [Christian Grey] really about? It really is about a domestic violence perpetrator, taking someone who is less powerful, inexperienced, not entirely confident about the area of life she is being led into, and then spinning her a yarn. Then he starts doing absolutely horrific sexual things to her … He gradually moves her boundaries, normalising the violence against her. It's the whole mythology that women want to be hurt."

And that’s because the dark world of “BDSM” and 50 Shades of Grey is more about violence and control than it is about love or even sex. I’ve noted with disgust that it is difficult for someone to give “consent” when they are restrained with various bondage gear. And sure enough, Salon has published an exposé of rampant rape in the BDSM community. (Shocking, isn’t it, that a community built around the celebration of violent sexual behaviors would be plagued by sexual violence.)

In fact, as the Salon article notes, one prominent sex activist, Kittie Stryker, noted that she has yet to meet a single female in the so-called “community” that “hasn’t had some sort of sexual assault happen to her.” The response of Stryker and others is to try and create a “Culture of Consent”—because yes, that’s how bad it is. “Rape fantasies” are rapidly and increasingly turning into brutal rapes—because unfortunately for those who have a schizophrenic view of sexual violence, we do not have one brain for reality and one brain for fantasy.

These sexual assaults, of course, are most often dutifully covered up.

The porn industry is working hard to make sure that you don’t find out about such things. Every group seeking social acceptance hides their more distasteful elements when pushing for social acceptance, and the BDSM community is no different.  They are attempting to sideline the most extreme manifestations of their commercialized sexual violence peddling in order to convince people that BDSM is just another harmless lifestyle.

Peter Acworth, the CEO of the huge BDSM porn company Kink, announced that it has stopped production of some of its more extreme sub-sites. These sites include public porn shoots in which the public is invited to spit on and verbally and physically abuse the female porn actresses. They’re attempting a “rebrand,” Acworth is telling media outlets. They want to be seen as mainstream.

No wonder domestic abuse groups are so furious.

This is what is glorified by 50 Shades of Grey. While commentators of every stripe condemned Jian Ghomeshi for his sexual violence (which he didn’t deny, instead appealing to “consent”), Ghomeshi himself described his so-called relationships as—you guessed it—50 Shades of Grey.

It would be extraordinarily insensitive and cruel to all those who have suffered sexual assault, abusive relationships, and domestic violence, to partake in this phenomenon and support this repulsive porn film with your money. All Christians, and all people of good-will, need to take a stand against this film and all it stands for. Because “consent” is not enough, and is not a moral standard by which to judge these acts of sexual violence.

We say that it is wrong to beat up women. And the pornogogues of the Sexual Revolution respond: “Well, she asked for it.” These women and girls are just more of the human rubble of the Revolution. 

To sign a petition pledging to boycott 50 Shades of Grey, the movie, click here

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Jonathon van Maren

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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.