50 Shades of Setback

For years women (and men) have worked to improve the portrayal of women in media, but it’s an uphill battle. This video my professor showed in class today called Miss Representation, I thought, was an excellent example of how we grow up in a society where girls are viewed as sex objects and boys are taught to see them that way. From movies, magazines, TV – virtually any media source – women are shown as sexual objects. A lack of clothing in movies, suggestive positioning in advertisements and the latest of sexual bondage in 50 Shades of Grey, which will come out in theaters on Valentines Day.

I believe the movie will be a huge setback to the portrayal of women in media. If you have a second I encourage you to watch the less than 3 minute video posted above. At the end of the trailer for the 2011 Sundance film, it talks about the need for the presence of strong independent women in media. Yet, 50 Shades of Grey is a movie about sexual bondage; discipline by the male and submission by the 21-year-old virgin female who becomes the submissive sex partner to a successful 27-year-old business man.

I have not read the book so I only know what I have read online or heard from friends, but I’ve heard it described as “basically porn.” I believe it became so popular because of the novelty of the idea, or rather novelty in the sense that people who did BDSM didn’t go sharing that around, but this is just another movie putting women in a negative light. A young girl literally becomes the sex object of a successful man. I know the movie is rated R so minors (hopefully) will not see it, but anyone can read the book and if they see the movie at an older age it’s still sending the wrong message to women of all ages. She is not an empowered, strong, independent woman the Sundance movie is calling for. And maybe she is OK with this kind of sex and it’s her choice and something she enjoys, but I personally think it is negatively portraying women in media and a setback for some time to come.

CNN Money and NY Times both wrote articles about how the sex toy industry is preparing for an increase in sales after the movie comes out. Target even hopped on the bandwagon and is now selling 50 Shades of Grey themed sex toys. And for Valentines Day instead of receiving a sweet I love you bear, recipients might get a Christian Grey bear, wearing a suit and carrying handcuffs and a blindfold, to help you “dominate Valentines Day.” How sweet.

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