Film's 'Fifty Shades' of kinky sex stoke domestic abuse debate

Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:47pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A U.S. grassroots movement is urging people to send $50 to women's shelters rather than see "Fifty Shades of Grey," while a Midwest child protection league argues the film blurs the lines of what is healthy or harmful in sex.

With its whips and chains and a sexual relationship based on domination and submission, the first film in author E.L. James' "Fifty Shades" erotic romance trilogy appears headed for the same kind of runaway success as the books that have sold 100 million copies worldwide.

Its arrival in U.S. theaters on Friday, however, comes in the midst of a national debate about sexual violence and domestic abuse, sparked by high-profile incidents plaguing the National Football League and U.S. colleges last year.

Just four days ago, President Barack Obama appealed to musicians and their fans at the Grammy awards to help stop abuse against women and girls.

To be sure, "Fifty Shades" is a tale of consensual sex between two adults.

Formed out of "Twilight" fan fiction, the story follows naive college student Anastasia Steele, 21, who undergoes a sexual awakening at the hands of seductive 27-year-old billionaire, Christian Grey, a practitioner of bondage and domination.

But some activists say the message is still wrong.

"This is about a seasoned predator who is a stalker and an abuser and sadist, honing in on a much younger woman," said Gail Dines, professor of sociology at Boston's Wheelock College. Dines founded the "50 Dollars Not 50 Shades" campaign that urges people to donate to women's shelters, rather than buy a movie ticket.   Continued...

Actors Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan (L)  arrive for the screening of the movie 'Fifty Shades of Grey' at the 65th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 11, 2015.    REUTERS/Stefanie Loos