In 2012, it came to my attention that most of my friends were reading a new erotica trilogy called, '50 Shades of Grey'. Without going into detail, it is my understanding that the story depicts a shy female 20-something meeting with a successful 28-year-old guy keen on sadomasochistic practices. In my opinion, the guy has serious sadistic issues.
'50 Shades of Grey' is porn for females. When we mention 'porn', I would dare say that we most commonly attribute it to something men face. Let's be honest: Girls are just as capable of finding another human being attractive upon one glance.
For females, I believe that porn creeps up in a much more subtle, deceiving way. For females, porn is more likely to take place in the form of a movie, a book or a TV show. It may not be a website or a magazine, but rather a film, a TV series we buy or a series of books we get reeled into.
Either way, I propose that females are more likely to justify watching things we probably shouldn't. We don't ever say 'I went to the movies last night, it was a porno'. Movies like '50 Shades of Grey' aren't categorised as porn because we don't want to put that label on it. Aren't we kidding ourselves though?
When 'Magic Mike' advertisements show up on my TV screen, I see it for what it is: pornification of men. Likewise, when a half-naked woman shows up on an advertisement, I see it for what it is: pornification of women. We say it's just 'normal' because it makes us uncomfortable to sit with the idea that our consumption is ultimately harming us and our relationships with others around us.
We know the effects
Over the past few years, society has begun to acknowledge the negative effects of pornography. It seemed that pornography was something we attributed to males, but recent statistics show that up to 1 in 3 women will use pornography on a regular basis. This is only slightly different for Christian women, with statistics reporting at least 1 in 5 women habitual use of pornography.
Science has recently shown us that pornography has a huge effect on neural pathways in the brain. Pathways are carved out as the habit starts, and are strengthened every time one looks at porn.
Individuals who would not even call themselves Christians have recently called out the harmful nature of pornography, labeling it as incredibly addictive and harmful for healthy relationships and a healthy sex life.
Here are 4 reasons why you might want to say no to viewing 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.
1. Porn is damaging. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that porn is addictive. Porn quickly creates pathways in our brains that seek for satisfaction over and over again. Porn can have significant impacts on relationships. I have heard countless stories of men and women who are addicted to pornography to the point where they prefer looking at pornography to having an actual sexual encounter with their partner. It doesn't take long for pornography addictions to kick in. And whilst we may think that a little bit of porn is harmless, each time one sees porn or engages with it, this neural pathway in their brain is strengthened and thus, addictions happen.
2. Have respect for the men in your life. It can be easy to have double standards when it comes to pornography. We often expect men to disengage from it whilst women get away with it because it is subtler. However, in the same way that male porn use can make women feel that we don't meet a certain physical standard, men, too, are affected by female porn usage. As a woman, I want to respect and honour the men in my life by disengaging from what many ladies around me would call 'normal'. As the Bible says in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 23, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial'. Think about the message you send to the men you know by watching Fifty Shades. Ask yourself â does it make them feel respected, attractive and adequate?
3. Set a higher standard for yourself. Current statistics about women's porn usage don't have to dictate your usage. Just because some women would say porn is a normal part of life and is harmless if done in secret, it doesn't mean we have to follow suit. In fact, I long for the day whereby we see porn for what it is: harmful and a cheapening of what sex could be. Set a higher value on sex than what these movies make it out to be: casual, harmful and self-centred. Sex was intended to occur within marriage, for the enjoyment of both husband and wife where they both are made to feel safe and loved. Set your sights higher.
4. God has given us better ways to spend our time. Many people have taken the opportunity to suggest a better way to spend our time (and money) than watch Fifty Shades. I have huge admiration for those who have taken up the #fiftydollarsnotfiftyshades challenge, donating to domestic violence shelters rather than seeing the film. Porn is self-centered. There are plenty of things we can do that are centered on others. You could write your own list!
Join with me in boycotting this movie, and setting a higher standard when it comes to the value of sex in our society.
Sarah Young is completing her Masters in Clinical Psychology and loves spending time engaging with young people. She spends her spare time playing music, running and going on adventures with her husband, James.
Sarah Young's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sarah-young.html