******* Trigger warning *******
This entry contains a sexual coercion situation. This is sensitive stuff for lots of us. Please, I don’t want you to end up in therapy because of whatI wrote. If sexual coercion situations upset you, please read with caution.
No, no, not someone into BDSM. Someone abusive …. like Christian Grey.
So, no big secret, I decided to get out from under my rock and read all 3 Fifty Shades over the weekend (honey was our of town for a bit, so that gave me plenty of free time). I’d heard all sorts of comments about it, from love to hate and everything in between.
This is by no means a comprehensive discussion (and I may spoil it for some people); I just want to get some of my impressions out and share some of my thoughts.
I didn’t want to pay for a book that a) was originally conceived as fan fiction of Twilight (and I am against Twilight), b) had been e-published, c) probably depicted violence against a female based on comments I’d read.
Lucky me, I found the pdfs of it and read it on my iPad gratis.
Some aspects of the book I enjoyed, in a weird way, I guess: I’m a brunette, so seeing having one as the main character was somewhat good (but she’s a while brunette, not a latina like me) . She was interested in British Literature, as I used to be (somewhat) at her age. She met her “prince charming” at nearly the same age as I did meet and date my Mr Grey. I did find erotica appealing and the fact that in some way, the main character, Anastasia owned her sexuality, her desires and (eventually, somewhat) asked for what she wanted.
That’s the extent of what I found “positive”. Everything else, from the writing, the plot, Christian’s attitudes and behaviours … it all made me shudder.
Nope, not the supposed BDSM scenes (which I kept waiting for and never really got … sure, a butt plug here, a whip or flogger there … that’s about it). So, the comments I’d read about people turning bright red upon reading the sex scenes were … overrated, IMO. The true problem is Christian’s abusive, manipulative behaviours and the fact that the same “prince charming” crap keeps getting bombarded to us. That we need a man to complete us, to validate us. But above all, that with just love and patience and submission, we can fix what’s wrong if we end up with a physically or (in this case) mentally abusive partner.
Having said all that, and somewhat setting the stage, I want to share my story.
In 2001 I was a sophomore in college. I had my life planned out, I was going to start applying for med school in the fall of 2002 and life was going to be awesome. In March or April of that year, at the last minute, I decided to apply for a summer research program out on the East Coast and was accepted. That summer I ended up going to a well known public school in New England and doing a project which I hated with passion. That same summer, I met my very own Christian Grey. He was a bit taller than me, a bit pudgy and very smart. His smarts and looks instantly attracted me and I was taken by his smile. I could see a lot of pain in his eyes and I wanted to heal him, to make him smile for me and for the world (sounds familiar?). We ended up dating for almost a year, then he broke my heart the first time, but we patched things up. I will spare you most of the details, but he was very controlling (what I could and couldn’t wear; my contact with my family (eventually I turned against them)). It all started slowly, with a timid but forceful ‘If you break up with me, I promise you I’ll disappear, you’ll never find me and you’ll never, ever know about my whereabouts and it’s going to drive you crazy’ spiel. But I just shrugged and continued with our relationship. He was the first boy I’d ever let into my heart, truly into it, and I didn’t want to give up on the promise of a bright future (I was 19 at the time and I’d lived a very sheltered existence up until that point, I thought the first man I’d kiss would end up being my husband). We did many things together, from studying for exams (he was in the same school as I was), to going to family functions.
Then the summer of 2002 came about. We ended up in separate states and he promised to visit.
In one of those visits, a friend drove him to the dorm I was staying for the summer. We went out for dinner and then hung out, and because my room had an extra bed, they spent the night there. My sweet Mr Grey slept in my bed and our friend slept in the bed across ours.
We’d ‘played’ with each other, gone almost all the way, but I’d been able to stand my ground and avoid having intercourse. Up until that night.
That night my very own Christian Grey used all his power and charm to subdue me and
beg coerce me into sleeping with him. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were in bed fooling around and I was half naked. He drops his pants, drops his undies and starts asking. At first he asked, that he did. Then he used a bit more force. I was still saying no. I said no … so many times. I said no. Eventually, after much begging, bargaining and promises (that we’d get married, that intercourse would help me get rid of my painful periods, ha!), I relented. I said yes. In a soft voice I agreed to let him in. I cried. What convinced me was that he said he wanted to lose his virginity with me. He wanted to be my first and only. He knew that was my weak point. And I relented.
I was in pain. I wanted him out. But I had just agreed to go forth. I couldn’t turn my back, could I? This is the first time I’m openly admitting it. My heart is racing as I type these words … I couldn’t back out. I’d already given my word. Who was I to back out?
I can’t remember how fast things happened. But I remember the tears. I had a bit of pain and discomfort … but more than anything, I couldn’t believe that the special moment I’d been told about by my mom and by movies and magazines had a) gone that fast and b) gone so awry. I wanted hearts and flowers. And I got none of it. I had a friend passed out in the bed across mine, I had a very hormonal boyfriend who had just convinced me by breaking my will, that it was OK and that we’d be OK. That sure, it wasn’t romantic or special, but it happened. I was his. I remember him saying that, I was his, I was all his.
Throughout the year before that night I’d been systematically broken down. He always complained about my big mouth and about not being able to keep it shut when I was with his family. I’d begged him to correct me. I wanted to avoid pissing him off, causing any sort of issues or conflicts. I begged to be disciplined so I could become the perfect girl he wanted. I opted not to wear certain clothes, for fear that he’d have a hissy fit and accuse me of being a slut or of capturing the attention of other guys and make him look like an idiot. Christian Grey did that. His weapons of choice, of power, were his penis .. having sex … and the mind games he played. And it was the same with my Mr Grey.
I eventually learned to like sex, to use it as a weapon to quiet my Mr Grey whenever I pissed him off.
Eventually his promises died. He cheated on me (I only learned about it 3 years after we broke up … but as usual, I suspected it). He eventually got married and I believe he’s had progeny. I pray that his progeny will never meet someone like him. He’s still probably not aware of the damage he did to me or how he broke me down.
I wasn’t aware of it until I learned about sexual coercion and about how I had the power to say no, but I didn’t use it. Because I didn’t know that it was a possibility.
I had all these patriarchal ideas in my head, and that didn’t fit into what I was experiencing. In a way, I felt like I deserved it, because I was being a ‘slut’ in the eyes of my family and my church. I was throwing away everything that was good and wholesome … thus I deserved to have my first sexual encounter be one in which I was coerced, in which there was another person in the room, someone that could wake up and perhaps could have stopped. But I was afraid of disturbing his sleep with my cries.
Reading 50 Shades helped me realized that having someone controlling, someone exerting power over you, especially if you’ve not given your consent, is toxic. It is damaging.
I applaud that we’ve made progress into helping women own up their sexuality, say what they want and under what conditions, and hopefully be respected. But I do not applaud the glorification of a control freak, a stalker, as Christian Grey is, and how many of us swoon over this “ideal” man.
My ideal man listens to me, rubs my back when I’m tired, is my nurse when I’m ill. My “prince charming” loves hearing me laughs and hates when I cry, and does everything in his power to make me smile. He cares for me and for our cats. Helps me with the dishes, offers to cook for me, and washes my clothes when I’m out of time. He’s a good, respectful sexual partner and is interested in making me feel like a queen. He doesn’t stalk me, or disrespects me, and would never belittle me … and I am so glad I married him instead of my ex, Mr Grey.
This clip is very awesome, and is one of the few that help put everything in perspective when it comes to 50 Shades and how the relationship of these characters is.