I want to make a brief comment on the phenomena that is 50 shades of Grey. But first, I need to make a disclaimer – I have not read the book, and I have certainly not seen the movie. But, I don’t need to eat rat poison before I warn others about it. It promotes violent sex and psychological abuse in the name of ‘romance’. This book romanticises weird, kinky and potentially harmful sex acts, and that is not real life. It is porn.
Porn is always self-seeking, never honest, never truthful, never trusting, and never protecting. There is no hope in it, no kindness, no sacrifice. Porn moves sex from being sacred to being profane.
Men are the major consumers of porn. Australian research shows that by 16 years of age, 100% of boys have been exposed to porn, with the current average age of exposure to boys being around 11-12 years of age.
Girls are also being exposed to porn at an early age – both in seeing it, but also as victims of the boys who have now seen porn as their first sexual experience. The girls become confused and distressed because they want the boys to like them, but what they’re asking for makes them question themselves – they are left thinking something is wrong with them for not wanting to do the acts depicted in porn.
Most women hate porn. They recognise that porn destroys actual relationships. So why are women loving Fifty Shades??? I believe the answer is in the supposed “happy ever after ending”. While a lot of the sex in Fifty Shades is cruel and sadistic, as in mainstream porn, it is deceitfully packaged for women who want a “fairy tale” ending. In male-targeted porn, the woman is an object, and only interesting for as long as the sex lasts. Once done with her, the man is onto the next, and the next, and the next. She is disposable and easily replaced. No happy ending here for women. But in Fifty Shades, the young woman – I prefer to call her the victim – captures the rich, sadistic, hero, and he doesn’t move on to the next conquest once he has his wicked way with her. In fact, he actually marries her and confesses undying love.
This is why groups fighting against Domestic Violence are so angry about this movie. It’s perpetuating a lie. Violence doesn’t lead to love – we know that intuitively, and life confirms it. In the first 7 weeks of 2015, 13 Australian women had already been killed as a result of domestic violence.
But this awful movie encourages victims to hang in there. It perpetuates the lie that he ‘really does love her’, despite torturing her, that in the end it will work out, and they will live happily ever after. They have denied the truth that porn objectifies women, and sold us the lie that he really loves her, despite his sadistic cruelty.
But that is not love! It is lust and I want to sound a warning that we need to know the difference. We need to stand up against the sexualized, objectifying, pornification of our society that is happening. Because when women become objects, they lose their humanity and the accompanying respect and human rights that they deserve.
Before we go any further, let’s establish what love actually is. Our authority is the bible and this is what it says –
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
So, on the one hand we have lust, which results in the objectification of women, and on the other hand we have love, which results in honour and respect.
Which of these two – lust vs love – are we being inundated with?
We have so much information about sexuality coming at us from everywhere – the media, advertising billboards, movies, TV shows, music clips, just everywhere. Recently, the Australia Institute research found that this sexual saturation is contributing to a wide range of risks to children and is, in fact, derailing the natural process of sexual development which commences in childhood and is a normal part of development. Our sexual health is closely related to our mental and emotional health. Because sexuality is more than biological – it is also relational, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual.
Let’s consider a few of the outcomes of this pornified culture we currently share –
- 70% of adolescent girls have body dissatisfaction
- Eating disorders are the second leading cause of mental disorder, and the third most common chronic illness for young females in Australia.
- 1 in 5 young Australians suffer mental illness with young women twice as likely as young men to be affected.
- There has been a dramatic increase in the hospitalisation of young Australian women who have intentionally harmed themselves.
- Over the past decade, the number of cases of self-harm using a sharp object have more than doubled
- The average age of first sexual experiences for both sexes in Australia is 16
- 20% of Australian girls have intercourse before their 15th birthday
- almost one in three girls has had sexual intercourse without a condom by year 12.
- 13% of adolescent girls aged 12-15 years who were tested, had chlamydia.
- The number of chlamydia cases reported annually in Australia is far higher than for any other infectious disease
- One of the side effects of chlamydia in females is sterility
- The Australian Kids Helpline reports that between January and March last year, 500 young people contacted them about sexting. 75% were female. One in three were aged between 10 and 14.
In drawing these facts to your attention, I am not trying to be sensational. The Australian Medical Association reports that sexualised marketing and advertising is contributing to children focusing on an inappropriate sexualised concept of body image. This impacts on their growth and physical functioning, including a reduced ability to think and learn. They also say that much of our advertising idealises a particular kind of female body, specifically one that is slim, toned and shapely and that this is contributing to the increasing number of children dieting at younger ages, trying – often in vain – to copy this concept of ‘physical perfection’.
Inappropriate sexual advertising and messaging should not be dismissed lightly.
There are so many opportunities for us to get involved and really make a difference.
Yesterday, I was sent a photo of this display outside a local Target store.
I immediately sent the following email to centre management.
For many years my children and I have shopped at your centre. The reason for my message is to ask you to please remove the Fifty Shades of Grey promotion in the mall outside Target. This book and movie mainstreams women as victims. There are many harmful aspects to this including an early introduction to bondage and sadomasochism themes to children.
Everyday Australians are sick of having sexually explicit messaging wallpapering our lives. If you disagree that is your right, but I would appreciate you explaining to me why it is ok to promote sexualised themes and messaging that are unsuitable for children, where children are. Adults can choose to read or watch what they like. Please allow us the right to protect our children’s innocence in their childhood. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Later in the day I received a call from the Marketing Manager for the centre who had spoken to Target – they had agreed to move the display.
Today, we see the same DVDs on checkout counters in Target stores.
Please consider taking the time to contact Target and request that DVDs that are not suitable for children, such as this one, are not be placed where they cannot be avoided by children.
Jesus said that His followers are “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”. Being salt and light is not optional. Jesus did not say you can be…or you have the potential to be…He said you are.