Fifty Shades of Grey: A Putrid Pornographic Story

by Rigel Kane | February 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


This February 13, the movie based on the book Fifty Shades of Grey will be released. On Valentine’s Day, couples and friends across the country will go to see the anticipated blockbuster based on the international bestseller that tells the story of a young journalism student (Anastasia Steele) who signs a sex contract with a rich Wall Street entrepreneur (Christian Grey). This man takes over her life and her body. She is beaten, tormented, isolated, and at many times feels trapped, but all this is portrayed as sexual stimulation and, ultimately, love. Christian Grey’s fits of rage and desire to own and control, Anastasia being beaten to the point where tears are streaming down her face from pain and fear, and pretty much everything else in this book-made-into-a-movie is caked in the dust of centuries of women being brutalized and treated like property. This story poses itself as "kinky" and "edgy" and rebellious against repressive sexual “norms,” but in reality it is just recycled garbage, taking to even more absurd and dangerous extremes the same old and brutal notion that women should be abused, controlled, tortured, humiliated, and terrified, and find all of this “fulfilling” and even “liberating.” In a world where an international sex trafficking industry continues to shatter female bodies and minds, glorifies rape in a multibillion-dollar porn industry, pimps out young girls on the streets, convinces men they are entitled to women's bodies, and then tries to convince women that this is what they should want, people everywhere can and must reject and resist the blatant mainstreaming of this putrid pornographic slave story.

Fuck Fifty Shades of Grey.

You may say, "Who are you to tell people what should turn them on? Everyone is different." The irony is that right now this system—and this movie—is telling you what should turn you on. It is simply a fact that people do not develop their sexuality and sexual fantasies in a vacuum—just like they don't develop their attitudes towards women in general, or towards people of different genders, or people of different nationalities and “races,” in a vacuum. In every society, it is first and foremost the accepted and enforced social relations that set the terms for how individuals come to see these questions. Romanticizing and eroticizing female torture and enslavement is part and parcel of—it reflects and serves—a world that tortures and enslaves women.

Today, we live in a society defined by deep divisions of people into oppressor and oppressed, exploiter and exploited, master and slave. It is not a coincidence that this is also a society that has normalized the enslavement of women. In the U.S. alone, men can buy little girls from an international sex trade, order wives online, rent the wombs of women in Third World countries to bear their children, and pimp out little girls in their own neighborhoods. We live in a global system that buys, sells, and discards women, that markets them like meat, and promotes rape as both a tool of war and an expression of "love."

It is not necessary to have—nor should we accept—a world where wars for empire ravage and destroy the people and resources of the planet, where Black and brown people in this country are snuffed out by police or caged in prisons, while a tiny handful of people exploit millions and use their lives like pieces in a chess game. The way that women—half of humanity—are used and abused, enslaved and degraded, is a cornerstone in the foundation of that kind of world. If we want a world without any of this, we must break all the chainsincluding those that bind women. As Bob Avakian—the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and the leader who has re-envisioned revolution and communism—has said:

You cannot break all the chains, except one. You cannot say you want to be free of exploitation and oppression, except you want to keep the oppression of women by men. You can't say you want to liberate humanity yet keep one half of the people enslaved to the other half. The oppression of women is completely bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited, and the ending of all such conditions is impossible without the complete liberation of women. All this is why women have a tremendous role to play not only in making revolution but in making sure there is all-the-way revolution. The fury of women can and must be fully unleashed as a mighty force for proletarian revolution.
BAsics 3:22

This is what we must be doing—and that means fighting against women's enslavement, not romanticizing it!

Fifty Shades of Grey is the exact opposite of what we need—in fact, it not only smacks of thousands of years of tradition's chains on women, it is part of a ramped-up and even more perverse revenge being waged against women in every sphere of society. Both big changes in the world and people fighting back against oppression have brought forward sharp contention over the role of women in society, and we are living through a vicious backlash against the very notion that women are human beings. There are people in power who do not think this society can survive without "traditional family values" that includes the subjugation of women, and there are many, many men who have been trained to feel entitled to women's servitude, to hate the fact that they might have a female boss, that their wives have thoughts and goals that are out of their control, or that a woman they catcall on the street could dare to tell them to fuck off. Both the rulers of this system and those brainwashed by it are making great efforts, some consciously and some as a knee-jerk reaction, to slap the heaviest chains back onto women that held them down for far too long.

What does this wave of revenge against women look like?  

Around the world: An epidemic of rape, gang-rape, "date" rape, rape porn, rape culture, is on the rise. There are horrific, and in some cases rising levels of honor killings, acid attacks, genital mutilation, murder, shunning, silencing, forced motherhood, forced sterilization, forced marriages, forced surrogacy, coercion of every kind imaginable. All this, along with sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, and sexual stigma teach a woman “her place.” There is no place in the world where it is safe to be a woman.

On the Internet: Porn is teaching boys and men that if a woman says "no" repeatedly and you force yourself on her, she will end up loving it and thanking you for it—that sexuality is a conquest, and boys should be proud of pushing girls past their comfort levels.

On the radio: Violent, insulting, and hateful speech about women. The kind of bragging about "breaking" a woman that sounds like a slave master talking about his slaves echoes across the airwaves.

In the Congress and courts of the U.S.: Abortion rights are being abolished. The idea that women's duty is to bear children—even if/when she does not want to and even if it risks her own life—is being resurrected and given the backing of the law and its enforcers.

Everywhere: Girls are taught that their value lies in their sexual attractiveness (but if they actually have sex they are shamed and often bullied or worse), or their ability and willingness to otherwise serve a man.

Fifty Shades of Grey is a part of all this and is part of making all this even more mainstream.

You know, it would be really fucking nice if sexuality were free from the puritanical, stigmatized, stifling, patriarchal bullshit that has filled women with shame and self-loathing for too long. But let’s be clear: The pornographic, degrading, stifling, patriarchal bullshit propaganda that is Fifty Shades of Grey is NOT a rebellion against those repressive “norms.” It is the “modern,” distorted, house-of-mirrors reflection of the same damn thing. It is not necessary for half of humanity to be enslaved to the other half, or to have any masters and slaves at all, and we have to fight like hell to end both a cult-like worship of virginity and motherhood, as well as complete sexual objectification, and, yes, all forms of oppression and enslavement of women. Women are not breeders or sex toys. Women are human beings. This system is robbing women of their potential and their very lives, and robbing men of their empathy and humanity; it is this old-ass patriarchy as adopted and adapted by the horrors of capitalist commodification (turning everything and everyone into a thing to be exchanged for profit) that is pushing so hard right now to glamorize violence toward women, demand their submission, and sexualize their enslavement. That's pretty uniform, not unique, and not even a little rebellious.

So fuck Fifty Shades of Grey. Fuck glamorizing the story of a young and sexually inexperienced woman being owned, stalked, and tormented by a rich and sadistic man. Fuck portraying being possessed, tricked, and terrified as “liberating.” Fuck the notion that a woman's highest purpose should be "saving a man from himself" by withstanding all this abuse. Fuck that. This story is all played out.

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Love looks nothing like hate. Freedom does not look like slavery. Liberation does not look like submission. It's not that complicated, really. A woman is not property looking for an owner, or some kind of pet, dumbly skipping through life waiting for a man to rape her, “take” her, and show her “true self.”It is only the kind of society we live in, in this era of revenge against women, that can market misogyny (women-hating) as intimacy and sell it back to millions of people. 

People of all genders: Get off that shit! Reclaim your humanity and fight for a world where all these horrors in every form really are ancient history! If you want to rebel against the oppressive “norms” of this society, which you really should, fight for women’s actual liberation—their ability to participate fully and equally together with men in every realm of human endeavor, including—as one essential part of this—women's ability to truly explore intimacy and sexuality based on mutual respect and equality. Refuse to go along with this awful premiere, refuse to see it go off unopposed, stand up and protest it to send a jolt throughout this whole society that has accepted rape and normalized slavery in so many forms. People need to stand up and say, “We see straight through your multimillion-dollar facade of ‘edginess’ to the oppression you are celebrating and the entitlement you breed!” This revenge wave, this sexualized slavery, this old posing as new, let's expose it for what it is, and call on others to do the same:

Stop romanticizing women’s enslavement, and start fighting for women’s liberation!


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