Parenting & Fatherhood

50 Shades of Grey – Do You Know Where Your Kids Are?

50 Shades of Grey – Do You Know Where Your Kids Are?

On Valentine’s Day a woman friend and I went to see “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I hadn’t read the book but you would have to be living under a rock to not have heard about how hot this movie was supposed to be – “Everything that women secretly lusted for.” We figured at best it would be funny. I expected there wouldn’t be a lot of men in the audience and I was right. But what I didn’t imagine was that the audience would be mostly young girls – well under the ‘R’ rated age of 17 you needed to even get in. And worse, this movie wasn’t at all funny. To me, as the single father of 5 kids including three girls, it was one of the most horrifying movies I have ever experienced.

I tried to imagine my youngest daughter, now age 19, sitting and watching this film when she was 17. And for the first time since I became a single dad, when she was 18 months old in 1996, I felt 50 shades of humbled gratitude that she had the horrific opportunity to get embedded into her sweet young psyche, that any kind of abuse is always unacceptable and non-negotiable. And it sure as hell ain’t sexy.

The “50 Shades of Grey” movie trailer has over 63 million views!

What’s wrong with this picture? For starters – a few of the messages the movie conveys to girls and boys (and if it’s not too late, adults also):

  1. Women should be attracted to good-looking, rich, powerful men who order them around and want to physically dominate them.
  2. Manipulation and bondage is sexy.
  3. As long as you take your time and make decisions of your own free will, no one, not even your best friends or parents, has a right to criticize you – even if your choice is to be hurt or dominated.
  4. If you do what your boyfriend says, even if it is bad for you, you are a good woman since you will be helping him with his problems and issues.
  5. It is normal for attractive, powerful and successful men to treat women this way.

This movie is not completely responsible for teaching girls that subjugating yourself is the way to be loved. They’ve been inundated with this self-deprecating trailer, waiting for a feature film like this to come out, long before they were even born.

I never thought I’d be writing a “women’s lib” type of piece – but here I am, thanks to this wretched movie and how it frightened me. Also thanks to reading that last week in Florida a hundred plus “youngsters” rushed the movie theater and the police had to come and remove them all. Remembering there was a reason, even if I did not consciously understand it fully at the time when I was so overwhelmed raising my 5 kids alone, that I intuitively felt the importance of telling my daughters daily that they were beautiful. Because they were and, thank God, have grown to know they still are. I was on a mission to teach my girls to make wise choices, and always learn to stand on their own. That because a man has money and is seemingly powerful, does not give him power over you.

Good men wanted, but not needed, thank you.

My 3 Daughters - Dec 2014

My Daughters – December 2014

My girls are lucky, ironically, to have faced these challenges early in life. As a result, my now adult daughters (19, 22 and 27 years old) have acquired the skills to ensure that they are never in a grey area when it comes to abuse. In fact it’s all black and white and I give a big thank you to my ex for the first time as well. In the end of the movie this girl was able to get up and walk away, but that’s Hollywood – the fantasy. The reality for too many is that walk away day never comes.

My 3 girls (and both sons) had a horrid opportunity to see abusive personalities, in action, right at home. They got to experience the subtle kind of abuse that their step-mom was so good at. They experienced first-hand physical abuse and abandonment from their personality disorder afflicted birth mother. They were made to feel sorry for their dad, because he was absorbing the blows for them. And to realize that it is not just men who are abusers.

Through it all they became experts at watching out for abuse. They learned to identify the traits that most abusers have. Many times we would comfort each other and discuss why all of this was unacceptable. Abuse forced us to become a close-knit team. And this is my hope for all the young girls I saw in the dark at the movie on Valentine’s Day – that this generation stands together and says, “no way”.

In my daughters’ lives I became the comforter, the protector, and the teacher. And in the background I was also a student. How otherwise it could have turned out that my daughters choose loving, healthy relationships, considering where they came from? Surely the “synchronicity” that was on their side was a dad who thoroughly loved them. That should never be a grey area.


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4 replies »

  1. I think another issue with the book and film is that while your article is smart, the material it’s about isn’t. The author conveys the themes and events she does simply to grab attention and get people to read, unaware and uncaring of the messages her story actually ends up relaying to the audience. But she is not to blame. E.L. James is simply writing what she wants to write and what she thinks will make her successful. And it has made her VERY successful. My comment is more of a reflection of our society, which chooses to invest money and time into engaging with low quality literature and unchallenging educational endeavors in general, which in lieu of stimulating the mind, provides us instead with empty but carnal and material fulfillment rather than substantial and soulful lessons.

    • Thank you for writing what should have been said about this ridiculous movie all along. I too did not read the book but went to see the movie with girlfriends for a laugh. What I walked away with was confusion – were they saying that as long as a single young billionaire with serious issues was into you, you should just go with what he wants?! Were we supposed to be rooting for Anastasia in the end because she “stood up” to him (sort of)? I left feeling like I needed a shower – and not for the reasons Hollywood billed it. I hope my 16 year old daughter realizes, if she ever chooses to see it, that abuse is abuse, no matter how it’s packaged. Your kids are super lucky to have you as their dad 😊

      • Courtney, So many people I know left that movie, seriously upset. What were they thinking? I would guess they were thinking this is a way to look like you are making an adult movie but getting your dollars from young people. yuk.

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