50 Shades of Grey analysis

There’s been lots of talk about this around the ‘sphere, facebook, social media, and the like. In fact, most Christian websites have at least one article dedicated to the topic somewhere. I’m not going to link any since they should be pretty obvious to find.

This book has sold 100 million copies. The vast, vast, vast majority of them to women. Probably 90-95% if we’re being truly honest. The book was actually a bad fanfic from Twilight that was published, another notoriously “woman” film.

Most decry the “abusive relationship” between the two main characters. However, having read tons of them none of them particular want to go do the road of the huge elephant in the room:

  • Why are so many women, even Christian women, desiring this “emotional pornography”?

It’s obviously not men that are pushing them to do it. I’ve seen tons of articles that shift off responsibility from women to.. well.. nothing. If the responsibility to not view this “emotionally damaging” book and/or film is not on women then who is it on? Men? The patriarchy?

The irony is that you can’t blame men for this. The author of the book is a woman. The book is primarily read by women. The vast majority of those going to see this movie are women. There’s no men you can actually “blame” for this spectacle, but of course you can’t “blame” women for it. No, that would be too harsh.

The boundless article on it actually gets the closest to it of any Christian website I’ve seen. It engages one of the primary reasons: her hypergamy. Hypergamy being a blanket term in the for maximizations in PSALMs.

1. It’s like the hundredth version of Pride and Prejudice. Boy, do we love us some P&P. “Plain and poor girl uses spunk and smarts to attract attention of distant, brooding but devastatingly handsome dude with a chip on his shoulder and possibly a few daddy issues.” He’s a challenge, a true project. She’s the only one who can reach him. And she does. Never mind that this version’s Elizabeth (Anastasia) has to put up with some fear, domination and abuse to get there. Her eventual “rescue” of Christian makes it all worth it.

The root of the issue is obviously the craving two factors that are simultaneously stimulated in women:

  • Attraction via maximization of alpha characteristics — dominate personality, super high status, impossibly good looks, insanely rich, etc.
  • Attraction to authority (of which headship is also authoity).

A few of the more secular analyses mentioned authority-submission and blamed the patriarchy whatever that means, but I didn’t really see this mentioned in any of the Christian ones. I’m sure you can guess why. Headship-submission is obviously a let’s-not-mention-this-topic-to-Christians-or-in-the-Church-as-it-will-probably-offend-people.

It’s no real secret that the majority of affairs are from positions of authority such as boss-secretary. And while most people would have you believe it’s the boss (or husbands) fault that he strayed which it is, it still takes two to tango. There is enough “blame” to go around to all of the participants.

From what I can discern the attraction to authority is based on trust: women want to be in the care of authority (or headship) because it makes them feel safe and protected. However, as I believe Dalrock has said before they also want the emotional thrill of being in potential danger. They desire to be safe but in [potentially] unsafe situations. Let’s take this one step further.

This is the ending of the movie Titanic. This is why women want to dress how they want out in public, or walk down dark alleys late at night, or be able to drink as much as they want. The “law” becomes their authority figure in this case which absolves them of responsibility, and therefore they can engage in potentially unsafe behavior if they want because they will be protected. If they engage in unsafe behavior, they cannot be blamed because they are protected 100% by the law. Anything else becomes “victim blaming” or “victim shaming” and we can’t have that. It’s all black and white.

Inherently, this is the exact same moral argument that underlies modesty and chastity. The attitude that “I should be able to wear what I want because it’s the other person’s duty to take responsibility for how they respond” is based in shifting responsibility of actions solely to implied “authority” figures (e.g. from Christian women to men). Even though those same Christian women would argue that women are not under the authority of such Christian men. Much less in normal relationships, and maybe not even in marriage.

All choices have consequences. Even if what you choose is not “illegal” or “immoral” that still doesn’t make choices you make the opposite — prudent, wise, or good. I believe this is the main thrust of Paul’s arguments about food sacrificed to idols in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8. As Christians we are held to a higher standard: we should care not only about ourselves but also about how our choices may negatively affect our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Even if we aren’t in the “wrong” or doing anything “illegal” or “immoral” I can still make a decision that can cause other Christians to stumble. Modesty being a prime example.

Anyway, I’m not quite sure where I was going with this.

Engaging in a relationship is always going to be on someone’s “terms” per se. When women engage in a relationship on a man’s terms, especially in the context of submission people are all too quick to call abuse. Whether it’s emotional, psychological, or whatever. Obviously, 50SOGs is a pretty straight forward example of “abuse”, but what critics don’t understand is that because authority can be abused that doesn’t make authority bad. Authority is in fact very good as God is the ultimate authority and He is good. He has also outlined in Scriptures that we follow authority, especially earthly authorities.

I also believe this is why the Scriptures outline how to engage in marriage. The relationship is neither on the husband’s terms nor on the wife’s terms but on God’s terms. There can be no cries of “abuse” given that the Scriptures outline the particular roles and responsibilities of the husbands and wives. Yet, the main problem still persists in that Christians in general don’t want to adhere to God’s standards and instead go by the world’s. For instance, when you revert to the world’s standards of what is the ultimate goal in marriage — happiness — then you have both men and women, especially women, leaving marriages in droves because they aren’t haaaaapy.

I suppose this is a problem that has existed since Adam and Eve and will continue until the return of Jesus. Also, the more and more I understand the Scriptures, the more I believe that everything in this life has to do with the right understanding of authority.

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10 Responses to 50 Shades of Grey analysis

  1. donalgraeme says:

    Over on Lori Alexander’s blog there is a post about modesty. I think the part of your post here that touches on modesty would be well suited for introduction there as well.

    Otherwise, good post. I think FSoG and the success it has had shows that women do want, somewhere deep within them, to submit to a man. The problem is that our society, and this includes the Church, doesn’t encourage this in the healthy, God intended way.

  2. Elspeth says:

    Pride and Prjudice is NOT emo porn! It is classic literature. Perhaps I will link to Escoffier, who is well respected around these parts, for a guy’s take:

    http://www.justfourguys.com/jane-austen-is-not-chick-lit/

    Otherwise, good post.

  3. @ Elspeth

    Haha, I guess Boundless is wrong again.

    But the point still stands: just replace Pride and Prejudice with Twlight or some other chick book.

  4. @ Donal

    I’ll check it out.

    I think FSoG and the success it has had shows that women do want, somewhere deep within them, to submit to a man. The problem is that our society, and this includes the Church, doesn’t encourage this in the healthy, God intended way.

    Yup, that’s precisely what I take from that. However, I think that the “submission” must be covert: women still want the benefits of “Equality” and the benefits of protection and provision under submission. However, such submission should never be talked about, and it shouldn’t affect their choices as well.

    In other words, they want it all.

  5. donalgraeme says:

    In other words, they want it all.

    Exactly. They want the power without the responsibility that comes with it. Or in Gospel terms, they want Eternal Life without the Cross.

  6. I think Bob Dylan said it well….”you’re gonna have to serve somebody”….either Satan or the Lord Jesus Christ. Please stop saying women desire to be under headship so strongly that they will accept abuse. That is just wrong. I’ve only learned about FSoG through Christian posts like yours, but it is totally Satanic from the sounds of it. Women are simply deceived by Satan & disobedient to the Lord, & will be “given over to various lusts” (Romans 1:24) As for Pride & Prejudice, so what if it’s a classic…the popular opinion of the world has always been in direct contrast with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “He who loves the world does not have the love of the Father”, 1 John. It sounds like there is a “savior” complex going on…which is is direct contrast to “be not unequally yoked with unbelievers”. I don’t think we need to over analyze and excuse plain sin. Women are being deceived by the enemy to believe there is anything good in FSoG. They will find out sooner or later…”Satan comes only to steal, kill & destroy!” John 10:10 I’m visiting from Lori’s & found this post interesting & informing. Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

  7. @ Cynthia Swenson

    Please stop saying women desire to be under headship so strongly that they will accept abuse. That is just wrong.

    Please quote where I said this.

    To be gracious, I will point out that women have the tendency to have emotional reactions — men are not exempt but occurs more frequently in women — and then interpret their negative feelings as saying something that was not actually said. This is why it’s important to quote what I said if you’re going to accuse me of a point.

    In fact, I made the opposite point in this post:

    Obviously, 50SOGs is a pretty straight forward example of “abuse”, but what critics don’t understand is that because authority can be abused that doesn’t make authority bad. Authority is in fact very good as God is the ultimate authority and He is good. He has also outlined in Scriptures that we follow authority, especially earthly authorities.

    However, your point is actually a good one (even though I didn’t discuss it) because it’s true to some extent. The draw of hypergamy and of submission is strong enough that these women were knowingly or unknowingly idolizing authority utilized in an evil manner rather than a good manner. Likewise, the vast majority of women go after the “jerk” or the “badboy” because he’s attractive only serves to confirm this.

    This is why it’s important to submit to the Lord rather than to the world.

  8. sprite67 says:

    Cynthia, I do believe that women have an innate recognition of, and even a deep craving for, their need to submit to a man. Eve was created to be Adam’s helper, and there was never a woman without a man. Today’s society has strayed so far from what a healthy relationship is meant to look like, that even this twisted version of it looks attractive enough that women will go crazy for it. In real life they don’t want to be abused, but on a screen or in a book, a man exhibiting dominance of ANY sort feels like it meets a deep need that otherwise goes unmet in most of our lives. If women’s needs for surrender were being met in their real relationships, they would not be so attracted by the twisted fantasy version. But in most of the world today, it’s just not.

  9. @Sprite67,

    There is an element of truth in what you say. This is why, if a woman does not have a vibrant spiritual life and a relationship with Christ, she is going to go DOWNHILL. I know several women who wanted the traditional relationship and found out later on that this was not possible. Challenges — to maintain the integrity of the marriage, to raise the children in the healthiest situation that is possible within the marriage, to accept the husband as he is without expecting anything to change, and to create a healthy situation within what is generally unhealthy.

    What do you do? The first thing you must do is rid your mind of any romantic remnants or illusions. The second thing you must do is establish a rigorous and regular program of spiritual growth and life (daily Mass and weekly confession for those of us who profess the Catholic Faith have to take top priority). The third thing you must do is flip your roles around, replacing the wife role (which usually takes top billing) with the mother role, putting your children as the main focus instead of your husband.

    This will keep you sane and keep your eyes on the prize at the end, which is eternal union with God. And that is all that counts.

  10. Pingback: Understanding faith and authority are critical to Christians | Reflections on Christianity and the manosphere

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