Okay everyone, so I currently look a bit like this:
But with frizzier hair. You get the idea.
And why do I look so frustrated? Because in the last 24 hours, I've had literally dozens of Fifty Shades fans contact me to tell me, amongst other things, that I:
- Am "retarded" for seeing abuse in the books.
- That EL James is on the side of abuse victims and I'm "trivialising" the subject.
- That I haven't experienced abuse if my ex was anything like Christian Grey.
- That I deserve physical violence for speaking out against the books. And yes, that last person got her ass reported to Twitter.
Now okay, I realise that if I "refuse to shut up about it," as one person charmingly put it, then I'm bound to get some comeback from the people who think Christian Grey is like, OMG, the sexiest EVER!!!!1!!one!!! And I'm prepared for that. I'm prepared to have strangers tell me they disagree with my opinion, because that's life. I mean really, if I thought the world was a place where everyone agrees all the time and we're all the best of friends, I'd be as ridiculously naive as Anastasia Steele herself.
I searched Google for pictures of "Anastasia Steele" or "Inner Goddess" but the results annoyed me so much, I needed to put a picture of my dog here to calm me down, instead. You're welcome.
But the one thing I will not ever tolerate is people who, without any knowledge to back up their claim, contact me in shouty capitals saying: "THERE IS NO ABUSE IN THIS BOOK." So I'm writing this blog as a final word on the subject and I'm having to drag out yet more evidence, because apparently, my TWO previous attempts to explain just why the books do glorify abuse just don't provide enough already.
If you click here you will find a checklist of signs of abuse. I've included a link, because I didn't want to be accused of making any of this up. And if you've yet to shred, burn or wipe your backside on your copy of Fifty Shades, then you can also check what I'm about to say with that as well.
I intend to make my way through this checklist and use evidence from the book to support my belief that the relationship portrayed in 50 Fifty Shades of Grey and the two subsequent sequels IS an abusive one. And I can't quite believe I'm still having to go to these lengths, but hey. People apparently aren't seeing it for themselves.
So here we go. These are some common indicators of abuse...
What the website says: The person who abuses may question the partner about social contact, makes accusations of flirting, or can be jealous of time spent with family, friends or children. He or she may call the partner frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly. He or she may refuse to let the partner work or engage in behaviours such as checking car mileage, asking friends to watch the partner, or asking the children to report.
The evidence in 50 Shades: Christian hates the fact that Ana is still friends with Jose, who he knows has feelings for her and who once tried it on with her. In spite of the fact that Ana says she has forgiven Jose and that they're just friends, Christian is firmly against her seeing him and when they visit his photographic show at the art gallery in book two, Christian makes a point of buying every single picture of Ana. When she goes for a drink with Jose, Christian describes himself as "palm-twitchingly mad," meaning he wants to hit her as punishment, rather than purely as a sexual thing. He also calls, texts and emails her constantly, even when she's at work. He travels hundreds of miles to show up unexpectedly when Ana asks for some space to visit her mother. He buys the company she works for and he has her frequently followed by his security, claiming it's for her own protection.
What the website says: The person who abuses may say that he or she is merely concerned for the partner's safety or need to use time well. He or she will be angry if the partner is late returning from an errand, will question the partner closely. He or she may not let the partner make personal decisions about the house, clothing, going to religious services or out with friends. He or she may keep all the money or even make the partner ask permission to leave the house.
The evidence in 50 Shades: Christian gets mad if Ana doesn't reply to his messages almost instantly. He bombards her with questions as to where she is and who she's with. He orders her food for her in restaurants and buys her a whole new wardrobe so that he can have control over what she wears. When she goes out in an outfit he disapproves of, he sulks and gets angry. When she sunbathes topless, he bruises her body so that she can't do it again. He buys the company she works for so that he can have control over her whilst she's there, too. Ana feels that she has to ask his permission to ride a jet ski on honeymoon. He actually tells her he needs total control and blames his abusive childhood for this. Ana refers to "his demands, his need to control, his scary vices."
Exert: “You sound like a control freak." The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them.
"Oh, I exercise control in all things, Miss Steele," he says without a trace of humour in his smile.”
Is he making you aroused yet? Christian Grey, that is, not the cat. Although the cat would probably make a better partner, all things considered...
What the website says: Many abused persons dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were engaged or living together. The abuser comes on like a whirl-wind "you are the only person I could ever talk to", "I've never felt loved like this by anyone". He or she needs someone desperately and will pressure the partner to commit.
The evidence in 50 Shades: Christian and Ana are married within three months of meeting. It only takes a month or so before Christian is begging her to move in with him, telling her he has never met anyone like her and she's the only woman he could ever love.
What the website says: The person who abuses is very dependent on the partner to meet all of his or her needs. He or she expects the partner to be the perfect mate, parent, lover, and friend. He or she will say things like "if you love me, I am all you need—you are all I need".
The evidence in 50 Shades: Christian's control is centred around making Ana the perfect partner for him, regardless of his claims to love her as she is. He knows she is inexperienced sexually and that she's too wilful to be a good submissive (he even goes as far as to admit that to her), but he continues manipulating and coercing her into agreeing to his needs anyway. He tells her "I want you to willingly surrender yourself to me in all things" and "I want your world to begin and end with me," thus perpetuating the notion that anything else in her life should be secondary and is therefore unimportant. These aren't realistic expectations, but Ana feels compelled to try to meet them.
I'm pretty sure her backstage dressing room demands are less ridiculous than Christian Grey's relationship ones.
Blames Others For Own Problems
What the website says: The person who abuses takes no responsibility for things that go wrong in his or her life. The abused person is somehow at fault even if not present, like a problem at work.
The evidence in 50 shades: Christian explains his entire personality as being a result of his abusive childhood, conveniently forgetting that as an adult, he has a choice about how he behaves. If I sound angry, it's because I AM, seeing as my own emotionally abusive ex blamed his childhood for the atrocious way he treated me. Oh and he also said things like "you make me feel violent, Emma." But I digress... Christian also tells Ana that her "stubbornness" is responsible for his "twitching palm." He refers to his mother as "the crack whore" and makes no real effort to take ownership of his own behaviour.
What the website says: The person who abuses is easily insulted. He or she claims hurt feelings or takes any set-back as a personal attack. He or she will rant about the injustice of things that are really just a part of living, like working overtime or getting a parking ticket.
The evidence in 50 Shades: Again, this is one I find hard, because my ex was prone to this. Anyway, when Ana leaves Christian at the end of book 1, Christian reacts in the 2nd as though his entire world had been destroyed, in spite of the fact he'd only known her for a few weeks and she'd proved herself an unsuitable match for him. “I've never felt the way I felt when you left, Anastasia. I would move heaven and earth to avoid feeling like that again.” Any tiny sign that Ana might have left, or might not succumb to his needs is met with an over dramatic response - sign of huge emotional immaturity on Grey's part.
Pictured: Christian Grey.
Cruelty to Animals or Children
What the website says: This person may be brutal to animals and insensitive to their pain or suffering. He or she may expect children to be capable of doing things far beyond their ability or may tease children until they cry. He or she may not want to eat at the table with children, or expect children to stay in their rooms all evening.
The evidence in 50 Shades: Okay, I'll admit defeat on this one. I see no evidence of Christian Grey being cruel towards animals or children. But then my ex wasn't either and that doesn't make him any less of an abusive bastard. That said, the whole, sucking his son's fingers and suggesting his unborn daughter loves sex already thing at the end of the book is bloody disturbing.
"Playful" Use of Force in Sex
What the website says: This person may throw and hold the partner down during sex. He or she will be unconcerned about whether the partner wants sex and use sulking, anger, or guilt to manipulate the partner into compliance. He or she may begin sexual activity while the partner is still asleep, or demand sex even though the partner is tired or sick.
The evidence in 50 shades: We've all read it; we all know Christian's into BDSM. That in itself isn't a problem, because BDSM in itself isn't abuse and to suggest as much is deeply offensive to anyone who practises it. However, Ana is manipulated into agreeing to a sexual lifestyle she knows precisely nothing about and which she says - many times - she feels uncomfortable about. She tells him: "I just want you, Christian. Not all the add-ons," but he insists "they're part of who I am." In spite of this enormous gulf between what they're looking for sexually, Christian doesn't give up. Instead, he employs subtle mind games and manipulation to get what he wants, playing on the "fifty shades of fucked up" element of his nature and insisting he NEEDS her to agree to his sexual demands. When Ana is confused about her relationship with Christian (I forget whether this happens in the 1st or 2nd book) and wants to talk, Christian begins trying to encourage her to have sex rather than talk about it. When she protests that she doesn't want sex right now, he ignores her and continues until she is forced to "give in." He also gets her drunk so that she agrees to his demands. Coercion like that is only a step away from rape and I see no reason to romanticise it. Then of course, there's the end of the first book, in which Christian beats Ana in an act I see as domestic abuse, not BDSM. No, Ana doesn't use her safeword. But that's because she can't, what with being in agony. She's in tears and crying out in pain, but Christian doesn't stop. Later, in the 3rd book of the series, Christian deliberately puts handcuffs too tightly around her wrists and ankles in order to leave "deep, red welts" on her body and he also deliberately bruises her chest in order to "punish" her for sunbathing topless. Ana hasn't consented to having her body marked in such a way. This is NOT BDSM. THIS IS DOMESTIC ABUSE.
Currently the only thing getting me through this blog.
What the website says: In addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, the person who abuses degrades the partner, swears at the partner, and minimises the partner's accomplishments. He or she may say the partner is stupid, and unable to function alone. This will often take place in conjunction with sleep deprivation, where the abuser wakes the partner in the night to verbally assault or interrogate.
Evidence in 50 Shades: I constantly hear women telling me that Christian Grey is "a sweetheart," because he's "so complimentary" to Ana. In actual fact, many of Grey's so called "compliments" are loaded with sarcasm or alternative meaning. I know this from experience, so please don't tell me how very wrong I am - even if EL James never intended to write the character this way, that's what she has done. He's a classic headworker; saying things intended to get into her brain and make her doubt herself. He tells her she's very confident "except for when you blush, which is often," thus making her question the way she portrays herself to others. Also, even the things he says that are supposedly nice are written as though he says them in a nasty manner. Have a look at the book and count how many times he smiles menacingly, or whispers in a threatening manner. I guarantee you'll be surprised at how frequently it happens. The sleep deprivation thing does happen too, if you think about it, considering Christian has conveniently timed night-terrors (usually whenever Ana is doubting their relationship and he needs to manipulate her into staying with him). If you're still thinking "Christian Grey is adorable and never verbally abusive, this is his reaction to finding out that Ana is pregnant:
Oh he's so lovely.
Rigid Sex Roles
What the website says: The person who abuses expects to be served, expects the partner to stay home, and demands that the partner obey without question. The abuser will see the victim as inferior, stupid, and unable to be a whole person without the relationship.
The evidence in 50 Shades: Christian wants Ana not to work. He arrogantly tells her she doesn't need to work, because he's rich. He's also quite the misogynist, claiming that Ana needs his constant protection and frequently inferring that women are the weaker sex. Early on in the first book, he mentions checking in on his company "to keep the wives in their place."
I'm starting to doubt that there's enough wine in the WORLD to get me through this...
Jekyll & Hyde
What the website says: Many people are confused by their partner's sudden changes in mood—one minute nice, and the next minute explosive. Such mood swings are typical of people who abuse their partners, and are related to other characteristics such as hypersensitivity.
Evidence in 50 Shades: This one should be pretty bloody obvious, even to the fans of the books. Christian's notorious Jekyll & Hyde behaviour is referenced by Ana throughout. She says of him: "This man, whom I once thought of as a romantic hero, a brave shining white knight—or the dark knight, as he said... He’s not a hero; he’s a man with serious, deep emotional flaws, and he’s dragging me into the dark." But without fail, always within a few pages of these moments in which Ana despairs at Christian's unreasonable demands or unacceptable behaviour, he does or says something to make her coo over him again and she's back to thinking of him as perfect. Jekyll & Hyde. Just like my abusive ex. Although of course, according to EL James, pointing out all of this abuse is "doing a huge disservice to the women who actually go through it." So I'm talking out of my arse, right? NO.
What the website says: The person who abuses may admit to hitting partners in the past, but they made him or her do it. He or she may have prior arrests or convictions for assault. The partner may hear of this abusiveness from relatives or ex-partners.
Evidence in 50 Shades: Okay, we know Christian is into "kinky fuckery" and he has hit all of his past partners. In a normal, healthy BDSM relationship, that's fine, but considering this isn't a normal BDSM relationship and Christian is a lousy Dom (ask anyone from the BDSM community and they'll tell you), I do wonder whether he has crossed the line with others. Take Leila, for example. We're meant to believe she's as messed up as she is because she's just SO in love with Christian and he did nothing to her? I'm not buying it. Also, on a slightly different note, abuse in a person's past is sometimes more likely to make them abusive towards others. It was the case for my ex. It's the case for Christian, too.
Hook me up. If this man is considered a romantic hero, I need to be drunk for the rest of my life.
Threats of Violence
What the website says: This would include any threat of physical force meant to control the partner, such as "I'll kill you" or "I'll break your neck". Most people do not threaten their partners, but a person who abuses will try to excuse it by saying "everyone talks that way in anger".
Evidence in 50 Shades: Christian refers to his "twitching palm" whenever Ana "disobeys" him. We're supposed to see it as sexy and erotic, but seeing as Ana never signed a contract, tying herself to a BDSM relationship because she expressly said she couldn't and seeing as these comments come outside of the bedroom and relate to Ana doing things such as going for a drink with a friend, or wearing an outfit Christian disapproves of, I think we can call them what they are: THREATS OF PHYSICAL ASSAULT. Christian also admits on more than one occasion that his wanting to hit Ana is borne out of a need to punish her ("if you disobey, I will punish you and it will hurt"), rather than sexual desire.
Breaking or Striking Objects
What the website says: This behaviour is used as a punishment (i.e., breaking loved possessions) but it is mostly used to terrorise the partner into submission. The person who abuses may beat on a table or throw objects around or near the partner.
Evidence in 50 Shades: We've already seen the excerpt in which Christian discovers Ana is pregnant and bangs his fist against the table so hard, he nearly knocks his chair over in his rage. Christian is obsessed with controlling things (situations and people), but has very little self-control, as is evidenced at the end of the first book. As an aside, I find this aspect of Christian's personality horribly triggering, as my ex threw things across the room more than once, telling me I MADE him do it, by "getting too close" to him and "making me feel violent." But far be it for me to use my real life experiences in comparison with 50 Shades. I'd hate to "freak out" EL James.
Any Force During An Argument
What the website says: The person who abuses may hold the partner down, physically restrain the partner from leaving the room, push, or shove. Or the abuser may hold the partner against the wall and say "you are going to listen to me".
Evidence in 50 Shades: Christian tends to use more manipulation in arguments than physical force, but he does grab her arm "menacingly" several times and makes threats (for example, at his parents' house, he threatens to take her to the boat house and beat her because he's angry with her) and he tells her before they're even an established couple: "If you were mine, you wouldn't be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you just pulled."
Not gonna lie, this is pretty much me, right now, realising women STILL think this man is someone to aspire to.
So there we have it. An official page, with actual signs of abuse - a checklist that those trained in the subject look out for - and the evidence from the books themselves that prove that CHRISTIAN GREY IS AN ABUSER.
I'll just go and sober up now. And await the tide of ignorance that will inevitably bring comments telling me I'm wrong. And to those women who believe Christian Grey really IS a wonderful man, someone to aspire to... Imagine you have a daughter. Imagine she gets with someone who treats her the way I've documented in this blog. Tell me then that you wouldn't think it was abuse. Because any mother worth her salt would be doing anything she could to protect her child from a bastard like that. No woman deserves abuse. And no book should be romanticising it, either.