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Women’s shelters launch boycott of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ movie sequel

Steve Weatherbe
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January 31, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Feminists, women’s shelters, and anti-pornography groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia have started a boycott against the soft-porn BDSM movie 50 Shades Darker, claiming it glamorizes male-on-female violence and oppression.

The U.S. boycott is led by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and Culture Reframed. The latter group’s founder and president, Wheelock College sociologist Dr. Gail Dines, told LifeSiteNews that the books and movies appeal to teenage and young adult women and “socialize them to believe that normal sex involves the oppression, dehumanization, and degradation of women by men.”  

On its webpage, Culture Reframed carries the statistical claims that the average age that boys first view pornography is 11, that 35 percent of all Internet downloads are pornographic, and, most tellingly, that 88 percent of the scenes in “top-rented and downloaded porn contain violence against women.”

The film, due to be released the second week of February, is the sequel to the hugely successful 50 Shades of Grey, which cost $44 million to make and grossed Universal Pictures International-NBC more than $500 million. The movies are based on a series of best-selling novels by E.L. James.

Noted an approving Salon article in 2015: “The old morality of higher purposes is being replaced by a new morality, centered on human self-fulfillment. According to this rapidly advancing worldview, the purpose of sex is pleasure, and fulfilling sex is an important element of most people’s general life experience.”

What can a campaign urging people to skip the movie and give $50 to a women’s shelter (#50DollarsNot50Shades) achieve against that kind of impact? First, says Canadian campaign director Jennifer Dunn of the London (Ontario) Abused Women’s Centre, “It will be worthwhile if we just help one woman who feels she is alone” avoid or fight her way out of an abusive relationship such as the one depicted in the movies and books.

But second, the boycott is part of “awareness raising,” says Dunn, that will lead the public “one step at a time” toward public policies that will deny the access free pornography that children now are permitted via the Internet.

Dr. Dines noted that campaigns against drinking and driving and smoking began small with consciousness-raising but grew to have a major influence on public behavior and on laws.

“This is a public health issue,” she told LifeSiteNews.

Not all girls and women who watch 50 Shades Darker will enter abusive relationships any more than all people who drink and drive cause accidents. But that doesn’t make either issue a personal one only.

“Consider the impact of one driver who drinks and then causes an accident, not just on his own life and health but on the lives of many other people,” she said.

The promotion of violence in relationships has a similar impact on the lives of women and children, she said, as demonstrated in all the women seeking refuge in women’s shelters — and those who never make it that far.

“Fifty Shades promotes the idea of violence as romantic. But women in violent relationships don’t end up like the heroine in the books and movie,” Dr. Dines said. “They end up dead.”

Dr. Anne Hendershott, professor of sociology and director of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, said this type of behavior also damages natural marriages “because it opens the door to a third object of desire”— a fantasy that “can interfere with the dyadic love relationship between the married man and woman” by creating  “a hunger or a craving for ever-greater sources of pleasure — a hunger that cannot be satisfied by normal marital relations.”

The campaign webpage, FiftyShadesIsAbuse.com, offers several ways for supporters to spread their views, including a Facebook group and several memes such as one that states ”The Lie: 50 Shades Darker is about a love affair. The Truth: 50 Shades Darker is about abuse, violence, and grooming a young girl for sadistic sex.”

It also provides links to women’s shelters and counseling agencies and a hashtag, #50DollarsNot50Shades, to encourage donations to these groups.

Dr. Dines said the interest of young women in the books and movies stems partly from a desire for greater intimacy with their partners.

“This is the age of hookups and casual sex without dating,” she said. “But Christian [the abusive male protagonist] isn’t being intimate. He is stalking.”

Universal Pictures International-NBC had no comment. The American office did not respond.

Late last year, the Canadian House of Commons unanimously supported a motion directing the health committee to study the public health impact of Internet pornography.

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