[Note: This is a guest post from Sarah Balogh, who is also my wife, a mummy, a Christian, and a Psychologist].
So I started writing this post for Akos’ Blog.
And the title was as per above, but as I was writing, and even after I semi- finished, I just wasn’t at ease.
There was something niggling. Somehow, the post wasn’t quite right. I knew I was missing something: I really wasn’t getting to the heart of what I thought about this film.
As I continued to think about it, I surfed Facebook and saw other’s perceptions. There were those who denounced the movie, but there were also those that were brave enough to say they were seeing it, or had tickets to see it. Some were even braver and admitted they liked it! And so I struggled with this question: why were people liking it?
They liked it?
I’ve read a fair few reviews this last week.
Most of them are a dismal 1 or 2 stars. Clearly it’s not good cinema, and from my reading it’s because of poor material, acting, and an even poorer script. Then I read an article commenting on the the ticket sales:
“It’s the biggest international opening of 2015 thus far and makes Fifty Shades Universal’s 2nd-biggest international weekend ever…
…Fifty Shades’ domestic haul makes it the biggest Valentine’s Day weekend opening ever, and the second highest-grossing February release behind The Passion of the Christ ($83.8 million).”
A Box Office Hit by the sound of things…But why?
I just couldn’t get my head around it.
If it was good cinema, maybe…if the acting was decent…OK, it would still be pornographic, but I could understand why the masses would flock.
But it’s none of these things….so why the attraction? What is it about moviegoers that has them going to see this clearly terrible film?
The Real Reason?
I knew it had to be something other than the sex, because there’s lots of sex in our movies these days, and none of them are such box office hits. So what is it about this particular movie?
Is it perhaps a reflection of women’s longings: a desperation for attachment, even if it’s destructive; even if it’s abusive?
Maybe it’s a reflection of how sad and lonely women are these days…so much so that this kind of story appeals to them: that somehow it fills the void, even if only for a moment.
Perhaps French philosopher Simone Weil was onto something when she said:
“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.”
In other words, fictional evil seems exciting to us. It’s interesting, even though it’s inherently bad.
And to some extent that makes sense to me. As humans, we’re attracted to evil because it seems romantic and enticing. But in reality this kind of evil doesn’t deliver. It tantalises our longings at some deep core level, but at the end of the day it’s empty. It promises much, but leaves us still in want.
And So, I Am Sad.
I am sad because so many women are going to see this movie. I am sad because subconsciously they think this is going to be good: they think it’s going to be exciting and fun.
And so, the more I think about it, the more miserable I become.
What a sad depiction of where our hearts are as women, that we would turn to this movie for solace.
The thought of it grieves my heart. I yearn for these women. Somewhere in my soul I feel their pain, I feel their sorrow. I am troubled that they are so easily misled. Why? Because I love women. I spend lots of my time with them. I live to be a “good” woman. Not good as in “goody two shoes” good, but a woman that desires good to spring from her life. Not just for myself, but for my children, for my family, for my husband and for the young women around me.
For me in particular, this good comes from my relationship with Jesus Christ. These longings that I’m speaking of, well Jesus fills mine. I am not so lonely that I need a relationship to fill me. I am not so desperate for attachment that I’ll take whatever comes my way. I am not so bored with my life that I need some exotic sex experience (even if it’s just on the big screen) to spice it up.
In Jesus, I have real satisfaction. Lasting satisfaction.
But for those of you still stuck on the title and wanting your 3 ways to better sex….here it is:
The Top 3 Ways to Have Better Sex than Greys.
Ok, first up.
I haven’t seen the movie, or read the books.
I don’t plan to.
I don’t want to.
And so my comments here are based on a few reviews that I’ve read.
Here is the basic plot, which is taken from Rosie Waterland:
“Christian meets Anna. He is immediately obsessed with her. He figures out where she works and turns up there unannounced. He tracks her phone one night and confronts her on the street. He even lets himself into her home, and shocks her by walking into her bedroom while she’s alone.
When they start dating, he immediately puts himself in a position of complete control. He plays with her emotions and confuses her by doing things like tenderly kissing her, then pushing her away. He refuses to share a bed with her after they sleep together. She is in tears about the way he treats her within a few days. She finds herself staring longingly at couples who seem to be happy and affectionate with one another.
He buys her a computer so he can contact her whenever he wants. He sells her car and provides her with one that he approves of, all without asking her. He tells her that she’s not allowed to tell anybody about what goes on between the two of them, or it’s over, essentially isolating her from friends and family.
He says that she must dress in clothes that he chooses. She must go to a doctor that he chooses, and take the contraceptive that he chooses. She must eat what he chooses. She’s not allowed to drink to excess. He tells her that it is her job to please him, and that if she doesn’t keep him happy to his exact specifications, it’s over.
When he finds out that she has scheduled a trip to her mother’s house in another state without asking him, he is furious. He throws her over his shoulder and screams, “YOU ARE MINE. ALL MINE. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” By this point, Christian has complete control of Anna. He dictates when they see each other, how affectionate they are with each other and who Anna is allowed to talk to and spend time with.”
Now if that is not Domestic Violence (DV), then I don’t know what is!
It seems the relationship is about one of control, not of love. Control, and patterns of control are what defines DV; be it social, emotional or physical.
And here’s the thing:
Good sex doesn’t happen in a relationship where there is DV. On the contrary, DV usually involves power, and abuses of that power. Coincidentally, I did some training on Domestic Violence last week as part of my job as a Psychologist, and here are some of the things I wrong down in my notes:
- 11 women died from domestic violence in Australia in the last 40 days;
- 60% of issues raised in counselling are abuse related – of that 60%, 90% are related to domestic abuse;
- 1 in 3 children in Australia are impacted by DV either in their home or in their extended family;
- Children who are exposed to DV experience many difficulties in life. These problems include:
- becoming perpetrators themselves;
And that is just some of what I wrote down. The ABC Online website also reported these alarming figures:
- Domestic Violence is the leading cause of death and injury in women under 45, with more than one woman murdered by her current or former partner every week;
- Accounting for 40 percent of police time, the cost to the economy is $13.6 Billion per year.
So as you can see, there is nothing redeeming about Domestic Violence. It’s effect on relationships, families and taxpayer finances is horrific.
Fifty Shades of Grey is Pornography.
The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of pornography is as follows:
Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement.
Dr Patricia Weerakoon, an Australian sexologist, recently commented on what she thought about Fifty Shades of Grey:
“Pornography is about intent: an intention to elicit sexual thoughts and feelings. So there’s no question this film is pornography, just as the book before it. It is fantasy sex.”
According to Sexologist William M. Sturthers, Associate Professor of Psychology at Wheaton College:
“[K]nowing how [the brain] is wired together and where it is sensitive can help us understand why pornography affects people the way it is….. Whenever the sequence of arousal and response is activated, it forms a neurological memory that will influence future processing and response to sexual cues. As this pathway becomes activated and traveled, it becomes a preferred route—a mental journey—that is regularly trod. The consequences of this are far-reaching.”
Here’s a video that explains it well:
So let’s be clear: pornography is a bit like Domestic Violence: nothing good comes from it. Actually, it will destroy a good sex life. If your brain gets used to pornography, the real guy or girl in the normal everyday bedroom won’t stimulate you, and well, it just won’t be good sex.
(There are of course many other reasons, both societal and biblical as to why pornography is no good. But there’s not really space in this blog post to go into those).
We know what bad sex is, what about the good stuff?
Here is what Dr Weerakoon has to say about good sex:
“Men are function orientated: they want to get sex done. Women want men to show them that they love them: they want to be romanced. So how does a couple overcome this? ‘They need to communicate to each other what they want’ and what they enjoy before moving into intercourse.”
So good sex is where you seek to serve the other: its where you seek to listen to your spouse’s needs and desires.
In summary, then, here are the 3 ways to have better sex than Greys:
- Don’t ever let abuse be ok in the bedroom. There is never room for Domestic Violence in a relationship. Nothing good will ever come of it. So steer clear of any “Christian Greys”. Just to be clear, that means powerful, narcissistic, controlling, abusive – yet sometimes charming – men.
- Don’t see the movie, or read the book. It’s pornography, wrapped in valentine’s day, wrapped in domestic violence.
- Good sex is about communicating well and serving each other. The more that you and your spouse aim to meet each other’s needs instead of your own, the better your sex life will be.