Friday, September 14, 2012

This is the way the world ends...

Here are my notes from the talk I did at Suffolk Community College for the Women's Club this past Wednesday.

Disclaimer: I don't care either way- I don't want to fight with you... I think there is stuff on both sides!

The damaging role of fantasy
·      Gail Dines Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies Chair, American Studies Wheelock
College, Boston
o   What needs to be asked
here is why are women getting pleasure from a book that tells the
"romantic" story of how a powerful, narcissistic, sadist  seduces, manipulates and exploits a young woman?
·      Does 50 shades play into “women’s relationship fantasy’s”? And If so- why do women want to live the submissive life-style? Is it about being with someone who fulfills them sexually and financially alone? That trading their freedom seems somehow worth it?
·      Ana is living the fantasy of the fairytale- she is able to fix a broken man and come out his bride.
·      Does the fantasy in this book have potential to be so damaging to young women- and why can we not stop reading it?
·      Are women so desperate the escape the mundane of daily life that they have found a new “feminine mystic”. Instead of doping they are drowning themselves in an unattainable fantasyland?
Domestic Violence?
·      Claire Phillipson: The novel is "an instruction manual for an abusive individual to sexually torture a vulnerable young
·      A woman who runs a woman's refuge shelter has spoken out, e.g., "It really is about a domestic violence perpetrator, taking someone who is less powerful, inexperienced ....”
·      He loves her so much- he can not control himself…? Power and Control the essence of domestic violence?
·      “In his book on batterers, Lundy Bancroft provides a list of potentially dangerous signs to watch out for from boyfriends. Needless to say, Mr. Grey is the poster boy of the list, not only with his jealous, controlling, stalking, sexually sadistic behavior, but his hypersensitivity to what he perceives as any slight against him, his whirlwind romancing of a younger, less powerful woman, and his Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings.  Any one of these is potentially dangerous, but a man who exhibits them all is lethal.” Gail Dines
·      Christian lays his cards out on the table at the beginning- requesting Ana sign a contract (as to what she will wear, eat, exercise, etc…) agreeing to be his “submissive” Ultimately she agrees to the terms making some exceptions to the rules… however, when the marry the rules in a sense still apply- he is still obsessively controlling- not allowing her to make her own choices in terms of birth control, spending times with friends or much else. If she does defy his rules even as his wife he still gets a “twitchy palm” essentially, she is punished.
·      Does it matter that she sometimes enjoys the punishment- though she does express fear of him.
·      His lifestyle often puts her in harms way- crazy ex submissive and insane people- out for revenge against Christian. Does this then justify his desire to “protect and care” her?
·      Christian intervenes in all aspects of her life, eventually buying the newspaper she works for and later is promoted to running the paper despite her in experience. Even though she states she does not want him involved se does not quit her job and find something else- does Ana want to be told, shown and dominated despite her feeble attempts to resist?
The Red Room, Lust or Love
·      Some would argue that is Anastasia Steele who remains in power throughout the text? Despite the appearance that Christian is the one in charge she often defies his wishes with glee and gets what she wants. Manipulating him to be what she needs him to be.
o   By his own admission she reminds him of his neglectful “crack-whore mother”- does this make him easier for her to manipulate? Is he trying to put her in the role that he wished his mother had been in- loving, nutring?
o   Christian is used to being dominated- Mrs. Robinson character
·      There is still no definitive account of this but a major part of girl’s socialization is *sexualization,* this "training* to be pleasing to men, is a training in pleasure as well--and in the age of porn,
·      Encouraging women to ask for things in the bedroom they never felt comfortable to do so before.
·      Men are stating that they are having more sex since their partners are reading the series… women stating that their sex lives are more satisfying- is it making women more comfortable… at what cost?
·      Can we trust that women realize that this is simply a fantasy? Women of all ages?
·      Their very first sexual encounter is Ana’s very first sexual experience. They have not known each other long- does Ana confuse- lust for love- as young people often do? Is this idea then perpetuated throughout all 3 novels?
·      Should we just let the book be what it is… mindless entertainment- and figure many are not reading too much into its sad writing skills and tawdry, impossible sex?
FACEBOOK: Hey readers of 50 shades... In my research I have come across some very interesting arguments both for and against the book. Here is an idea I want to pitch to the readers: If we know that domestic violence is about power and control and we see this exerted by Christian Grey over Anastasia Steele (not just sexually- but physically, emotionally, mentally, electronically, financially as well) Even though she is a (mostly) willing participant is this still domestic violence? If you say yes, please explain. If you say No, explain but also consider the idea that Ana could be exhibiting signs of "Stockholm syndrome"? Also, for all- considers the statement "He loves her so much, he just can’t control himself".