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Commentary: Just what 'Fifty Shades...' movie needs: A bad scientific review
Published on August 29, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Anthony L Hall

Nothing betrays what cynical and exploitative regard the producers of Fifty Shades of Grey have for loving relationships quite like their scheduling the release of this movie for “Valentine’s Day 2015.”

But they could not have anticipated the “premature” release of a scientific study on the deleterious psychosocial impact the Fifty Shades phenomenon is having on middle-aged women:

Women who read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ are more likely to have abusive partners and eating disorders, according to academics concerned about the blockbuster novel’s impact.

A study at Michigan State University found it was linked to ‘unhealthy behaviours’, including binge drinking, unsafe sex and other risks associated with being in an ‘abusive relationship’.

Lead researcher Dr Amy Bonomi … argued the bestseller was ‘perpetuating dangerous abuse standards’, romanticising a plot where the lead female character becomes ‘disempowered and entrapped’.

(The Independent, August 23, 2014)

Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at
Now bear in mind that this study is based on scientific observations of women behaving like teenagers on a wild ecstasy trip after reading the novel. So just imagine what rabid (i.e., overdosing) effect watching the movie might have on their senses….

Of course, I’m no movie critic; nor am I a women’s health scientist. Yet here’s an excerpt from “Fifty Shades of Grey: Mainstreaming Kinky, Abusive Sex?” which I wrote over two years ago (on April 20, 2012), when erstwhile sensible women were swooning about this novel providing all kinds of titillating ideas to spice up their sex lives:

I have to begin with a disclaimer: I did not read this book. I just listened in utter stupefaction a few days ago to female friend who did as she shared why Fifty Shades of Grey, by author E. L. James, is all the rage.

No doubt my friend would declare herself an unabashed feminist. And she has never struck me as the submissive type when it comes to sex.

This is why I was so taken aback when she expressed how captivated and stimulated she became as she read about the sadomasochistic relationship that plays out in graphic fashion between the main characters in this novel: the virginal, eager to please Anastasia Steele and her emotionally scarred and domineering sugar daddy, Christian Grey…

I was troubled by the almost self-righteous way my friend rationalized the emotional and physical abuse Christian repeatedly inflicts upon Anastasia by saying it was all consensual (i.e., that that’s what she wanted). Really? I’m all for a little rough sex, but jeez…

Given the way she so blithely related to the submissive, if not degrading, way Anastasia behaves, I asked my friend to explain why she not only condemned Chris Brown for beating up Rihanna but, more to the point, then condemned Rihanna for going back to him … for more.

I also asked if she’s not at all concerned that the popularity of this novel might undermine the signature feminist argument that men who get off on the psycho-sexual abuse so often depicted in porn are being conditioned to act out that abuse in their personal relationships. For surely it must follow that women (especially impressionable teenage girls) who get off on the psycho-sexual abuse depicted in this book are being conditioned to accept this abuse in their personal relationships.

Trust me, she’s a brilliant woman. But I am still waiting for a comprehensible, credible reply….

Now, given the scientific findings of this study at Michigan State University, I hope I’ll finally be forgiven my indignant dismay at so many women waxing orgasmic in public over this trashy, irresponsible novel. Never mind the truly dismaying fact that so many women would need a scientific study to teach them a life lesson as simple as: if you play with fire, you will get burned.

More important, though, to the women who made Fifty Shades such a phenomenal bestseller, please do not compound this prurient spectacle by making it a blockbuster movie too. Instead, get a sex toy! And, please, act your age by keeping reviews about what it does for you to yourself.

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