Fifty Shades of Bad Role Models…
If you haven’t already heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, you will. It is the hottest book to hit the women’s market since Twilight, and it provides 100 times the fodder for feminists looking for a fight. Bella in Twilight came under fire from empowered feminists because she is meek and unassertive, and willingly gives up her life for her man (well, vampire). We feminists frown on this behavior.
Now women have a new anti-heroine –Anastasia Steele, who falls in love with a man who only wants her if he can have her as his submissive – yes, you heard it right: submissive, as in sex slave. This is not some paper-bag covered porn book, it is flying off the shelves of mainstream book stores, and I can’t name a woman who hasn’t at least heard about it. It is sexy and a good, fun, read, but I can’t help but think about the message it is sending to young women.
At first Anastasia doesn’t like the idea of being submissive to Grey, but if that is what it takes to “get” her man, then she is willing to try it out. Along with the pain he inflicts on her during sex, he also regulates what she eats, what she wears, and what she says. She is not allowed to touch him or make eye contact with him. She must cede her free will entirely to the man who shares her bed (or rather her Red Room of Pain).
The reason this bothers me is that women have enough trouble standing up for themselves. Women stay with men who beat them, they do 90% of the housework and childcare, they accept lower pay and are too often terrible negotiators for themselves. Despite all of our accomplishments and gains in the worlds of love and work, submission is a role that comes too easily for too many women.
Our goal at Running Start is to train young women to stand up for themselves. To value themselves as people, as leaders, and to realize they don’t have to stand on the sidelines of life – they can ask for and get what they want. So instead of reading Fifty Shades of Grey, encourage young women to read the Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen is a great heroine who takes no shit from anyone, and who can run circles around the men in her life. I’d like to see Katniss’s face if Christian Grey suggested his indecent proposal to her. Now THAT would be a great book!
Image from globalpost.com