The truth about Fifty Shades of Grey

Movie glamourises sexual violence and domestic abuse

[notice]By Dawn Glass, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation with South Africa-specific content added by Taryn Hodgson of Africa Christian Action[/notice]

50SHADESSter Kinekor in South Africa is promoting the soon-to-be-released Fifty Shades of Grey film as “the hottest cinema experience this Valentine’s Day”(February 14), to which you can “treat your date”! Pro-family groups however, are warning that Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the worst pornographic glamourisations of sexual violence to be released on the big screen and have launched campaigns to expose this.

The mass media and throngs of women are swooning over the twisted “love story” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” but this cultural phenomenon’s impact on society will serve only to glamorize sexual violence and romanticise domestic abuse.

While millions of women are fantasizing about the controlling and abusive Christian Grey of fiction, there are many other women dealing with the horrors of actually living with men like him.

In the book, and now the soon-to-be released film, Christian Grey uses manipulation, jealousy, intimidation and violence to control the naive Ana. Most fans overlook and romanticise this because of his powerful position, handsome looks and nice suits. But in real life women like Ana will tell you that a seemingly perfect exterior does not necessarily mirror one’s psychological health, or mean that he possesses a moral compass.

Portraying the abuser as a victim
A college student, one of many I’ve heard from in my role as executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, wrote to me that Christian is just suffering the consequences of his own abuse, acting out in the only way he knows, and that Ana’s patient, loving behavior helps him overcome his abusive tendencies. Christian is so easily and quickly forgiven for his violent behavior. But forgiveness and devotion to an aggressor who inflicts violence is not sexy. Violence is violence. Sexual violence is worse.

While this should be a black-and-white truth, EL James is selling it in all shades of grey. Even worse, over 100 million women are buying it — in over 50 languages.

The reality is that, if you take away the glamour, “Fifty Shades” is just a sensationalised lie, telling women that they can, and should, fix violent and controlling men by being obedient and devoted, and that, somehow, this is romantic. It is no surprise that Hollywood is betting millions of dollars that now is the right time to offer sexual abuse and sexual violence against women as mainstream entertainment.

The popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey” among women also sends a message to men that unrestrained domination is what women want. And, educated by porn, they know how to do it. A majority of men have been getting a regular diet of this kind of violent sex and degradation through porn for years. In it, women are tied up and treated like animals and objects. Much of it is rape-themed.

One of the most popular BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) websites advertises its content as “the sexual persecution of women and young teenage girls”. Ana Bridges, a researcher at the University of Arkansas, conducted a study that found that 89 percent of the most popular porn scenes involved violence, most of which was directed at women by men.

Unrealistic fairy-tale ending
Porn will show you that women enjoy torture and violence, and now “Fifty Shades” is tacking on an unrealistic fairy-tale ending, convincing droves of women that this type of relationship is normal, and that they should just give in.

This is not entertainment, or a fairy tale, as Hollywood is claiming. This is glamourisation of violence and abuse. Society pays a price when we teach men to be turned on by women in pain. As a result, sexual violence is on the rise in our military, colleges, families and on the street. When violence is made to be sexy, it is no wonder that these are the consequences.

It is time we speak up and stop obscuring the facts by allowing pornographers, like “Fifty Shades” author EL James, to lure us into viewing this lifestyle as attractive, harmless and empowering.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has a website,, that details 50 problems with this disturbing trend in entertainment media. This project comes in an effort to educate the public on how sexual exploitation affects society on both individual and public health levels. The site also features the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign and urges patrons to support survivors of abuse and help educate the public on the realities of “Fifty Shades” relationships.

Hold up a mirror to Christian Grey and you’ll see the reflection of a culture saturated in exposure to violent pornography. This is the porn that has, and continues to, groom the next generation of men to believe that they are entitled to violent sexual behavior, and that women should enjoy it. “Fifty Shades of Grey” models and reinforces this, while Hollywood is cashing the cheque. We will not accept what Hollywood is offering.

Glamourising sexual abuse is not an appropriate topic for entertainment. Remove the glamour and facade of the Christian-Ana relationship and ask yourself if this is the twisted lie you want to tell yourself, your daughter and your friends.

What you can do

  1. Inform and warn friends and family. Urge them to boycott the film and not to purchase the novel. Share this article on your social media. Encourage them to rather donate R80 to a Christian shelter for abused women, than to waste R80 on a movie ticket.
  2. Post a polite, factual but firm comment on the Ster Kinekor Theatres and Nu Metro Facebook pages to protest this 50 Shades of Abuse! Use points made in the article above.
  3. Copy your complaint in an email to Ster Kinekor:
  4. Ask Exclusive Books to remove the 50 Shades of Grey book from their shelves: The General Manager:, 011 – 798 0166.
  5. Complain about the low age restriction given to this film (16LNS). Whilst we don’t think anybody should subject themselves to this film, at the least it should receive an X18 rating – i.e. only allowed to be sold from a porn shop. Contact the Film and Publications Board:

Recommended Resource
This is a winnable war. Is there hope for the porn addict? What is the Biblical antidote to the porndemic? And what can you do to protect yourself and your family? How can we take back the culture from the pimps and pornographers? Africa Christian Action’s book Porndemic will equip you, with the help of God, to begin to transform your community.



  1. In the USA the makers of the Film “Old Fashioned” have arranged to release their movie on the same day as Fifty Shades (Valentines day). This is a movie about old fashioned style love and courtship… Wish they would release it in South Africa, but I doubt that they would.
    Anyone in the Christian entertainment world that could try to bring it out here?

  2. Sonia Odendaal

    That would be great, I hope someone in the Christian entertainment world here in SA will try and bring the film “Old Fashioned” to South Africa! We NEED this kind of film, not the 50 shades of Grey filth

  3. Love is not hurtful, does not seek
    its own,nor is it arrogant or proud –
    Love is patient and kind

  4. Hugh G Wetmore

    In our marriage counseling of late we have dealt with the terrible destruction of marriage by pornography. It used to be booze that wrecked marriages, now it’s porn. All porn should be banned, as it is in Singapore. Preachers should warn in their sermons, and youth workers should warn youth not to even start. Porn is a stronghold of satan.

  5. This book is going to bring some bad stuff out in the open and it will become the norm.