I am writing to express my concern on the upcoming showing of the film “Fifty Shades of Grey,” on April 29, May 1, and May 3, 2015 at Bloomsburg University. I am well-versed in the subject, having done a full-length research paper and multiple presentations on the topic.
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, as many as one in five women are sexually assaulted in college, and one in sixteen male college students have been victims of an attempted or completed sexual assault (NSVRC 2015).
How can we stand back and watch as a movie that clearly perpetuates rape culture, promotes unhealthy romantic and sexual relationships, and propagates sexual violence against women is shown for entertainment purposes in a place where we should be educating students? What happens when, after seeing this movie, one partner is inspired to “be kinky like Christian” and ends up assaulting, abusing, and seriously injuring their sexual partners? The sexier version of a relationship starts to be the scarier version, blurring the lines between consent and coercion, and presenting a relationship as healthy when in truth it meets many of the CDC’s criteria for a representation of Intimate Partner Violence. What Christian and Ana have in this movie isn’t a 21st century love story, it is a classic case of an unhealthy relationship.
As a feminist woman, I am outraged that this movie is playing on campus simply because of the portrayal of treatment of the women in this film. It is dehumanizing and abhorrent. However, you don’t have to be a feminist or a woman to know that sexual violence is wrong. As a student, I am ashamed that this movie, whose themes so strongly perpetuate rape culture and sexual violence, is playing on the same campus that just recently held sexual assault prevention presentations and Take Back the Night, in a town that is painting it’s windows with teal ribbons to celebrate SAAM.
While I understand it is near impossible to prevent students from viewing this film on their own (which is not at all what I am trying to achieve- I believe in freedom to choose what one views), by showing this movie multiple times, the university seems to giving a seal of approval to “Fifty Shades” and its problematic content. “Fifty Shades of Grey” dehumanizes women, and that is the last thing that a university with a majority of women in attendance should be propagating.