Friday, March 8, 2013

Life in the Gray...but not the 50 shades of it for me.

The more I journey into adulthood, the more I am struck by how gray reality really is.  There is a reason we call this season of life Mid-life.  I am in the deep of the middle years.  Childhood has faded away into an eerily distant memory and twilight seems pretty far away for me still, or at least I hope it is anyway.  Sexuality has been a very gray area for me to this point in life, and I have much brokenness in this area... I am a product of the culture and family structure I was raised up in and then I mixed those messages together to make a pretty distorted version of broken sexuality all on my own.

About a year and a half ago, I started noticing hushed whispers and knowing looks being exchanged all around me about this new brand of fan fiction.  I noticed it everywhere I went...and I mean everywhere.    I travel in some pretty vanilla circles in my life so I was surprised when I started to pick up on what was going on.  It was as if by reading borrowed copies of Twilight, suburban wives and moms found a sort of gateway into a world of BDSM erotica.  Now I travel in vanilla circles, but have a strong rebellious streak, so I am not naive to the BDSM world.  I just had an understanding of this sort of  erotica in a very distinct and separate compartment, so watching the lines blur sparked curiosity for me.

And so I took the dive...which took me only a short while to whole heartily regret.  I wanted to know why this story that was captivating so many women.  I participated in the quiet little indulgence and then my brain short circuited.  What in the world was I doing?!?  This goes against most of the things I hold the most conviction about in my life.  I am a survivor of the misuse of power.  I am attempting to promote equality in my little corner of the world.  I once needed to call out and place boundaries down on another person's consumption of similar material.  I am a Hypocrite and though I initially had a good feeling after reading what I read, I felt awful only a short time later because of the way the  themes of domination and submission were glorified.  I thought the story line was exploitative and dark and I felt like the main male character was tortured not sympathetic.

Let me state that I am not completely puritanical in my thoughts on sexuality and art, though have been accused of prudishness a time or two.  I am not against all material that deals with the issue of sexual arousal, if it is based in respect and lifting up of human sexuality.  I think many talented artists have made important statements about sexuality through provocative artistic pieces of work throughout history.   Such artwork has contributed greatly to our collective emotional evolution as a people.  In my opinion this trilogy is not one such piece of work.

I have been chewing on these truths for a couple of months now and growing with concern about how little this cultural phenomenon is being evaluated in the light of day.  Then I realized I wasn't discussing the issues that the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey was exposing either.  I wasn't discussing it because I felt ashamed that I had participated and I wasn't discussing it because I did not want to hurt feelings.  I was afraid to hurt women whom I love, admire, and participated in conversation with about this issue before my soul screamed out to stop.  Then I read this article, and I want to put my own two cents about it out there:

50 Shades of Broken: Why Do Women Fantasize About Abuse?

This needs to come into the light.  I don't want my daughter to read this sort of thing and think it's for her pleasure.  I don't want my sons to read this sort of thing and think to be a man they have to dominate.  So I will add my voice to Jenny's...We need to be talking about why these books have such a grip on the consuming power in this country.  It matters too much to stay silent because I feel discomfort in speaking out about this.  So there you have it... I read it.  I had a physiological response to the material.  I felt a sense of conviction about the power I was allowing the messages to have over me.  And now I can choose to say no to this sort of thing and speak up about the underlying issues.  I can make peace with the shame and light a torch to the issues of degradation.  And so I will...and I hope my spirit of humility will come through in the tone of my two cents addition, because I most definitely live in a glass house.

I am not okay with "art" that glorifies women being reduced to second class.  I am not okay with "art" that appears to be sympathetic towards a survivor of abuse who chooses to pay the trauma they experience forward to someone else, becoming predator in the process.  It is not okay with me...even if I can feel momentary pleasure as a response to such material.  This sort of sexual violence is not okay with me... even if I can secretly download it to my e-reader and whitewash the imaginary left as residue in my mind and soul afterward.

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