Christian Grey Is My Worst Nightmare

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The Fifty Shades of Grey film premieres on Valentine’s Day. Although the only people I know who seemed to be remotely interested in E.L. James’ novels are bored, near middle-aged married women who think a “sexy” trilogy will help them spice up their love lives, it is still a part of our popular culture. The film is currently being advertised everywhere, from erotic workout classes to sex toys being sold at Target next to children’s toothbrushes. 

While many people are against the film simply because they believe it is absolutely ridiculous, the major aspect of why Fifty Shades of Grey is problematic is ignored. Fifty Shades of Grey glorifies abusive relationships and normalizes them. It uses BDSM—which is an abbreviation for bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism— as a form of disguising the highly disturbing themes of abuse. While I may not have experience with BDSM, I know that in order to participate, full consent and communication are needed between sexual partners. It is supposed to be enjoyable for all parties involved and they must respect what their partner likes and dislikes. Christian Grey, the “protagonist” of the film and novels, participates in stalking, intimidation, and possessive tendencies that are not part of a healthy BSDM relationship.

E.L. James—who is a woman— sells this character as being charming and alluring, causing women who read the books to think that this is the type of man who can provide them a positive sexual experience. However, while I may not have experienced being in a sexual relationship that involves BDSM, I have experienced being in two emotionally abusive relationships. The men I was in a relationship with behaved in a manner that is similar to Grey’s and it was certainly not enjoyable in any shape or form. In fact, it involves years of therapy and PTSD.

I had previously discussed my first abusive relationship in the article We Deserve Better.  Although I also discussed the second relationship, I didn’t go into much detail. However, this is my story.  The second guy I was in an abusive relationship with fit the criteria of what E.L. James tries to sell as a fantasy: he was a teenaged Christian Grey. I met him when I was sixteen through a friend of a friend. He was rich, charming, and decent looking. I was constantly bullied in school and felt like nobody was ever going to be romantically interested in me, so I was surprised he was even interested in me.

We went on our first date a few days before Valentine’s Day, which consisted on going to a house party of one of his friends (because that’s what qualifies as a “date” in high school). He told me he didn’t want a relationship because it would overcomplicate things, and I was absolutely fine with that.  He  then said that I had to be as detached as possible and not be clingy, which is fine because I like my space—especially after dealing with a psychotic ex.

Although he gave me instructions on not to call  or text him, he would text me every following morning to wish me a good morning and tell me how much he liked me. I thought “Okay, this is sweet. This is what girls want from guys, right?” I wasn’t allowed to do that to him because he’d complain, yet he was allowed to constantly contact me. I thought this was strange but I let it slide.

Then, as we continued dating, I noticed he would get more aggressive and manipulative. I always had to do what he wanted and go where he wanted me to go or else he’d throw a fit and complain about me and my overprotective parents. He would do simple yet alarming things such as reprimanding me for not smoking a cigarette the way he wanted me to or lying about his past relationships and personal information. He also made patronizing comments constantly. However, I still felt like there wasn’t a reason good enough to not date him until the relationship grew more serious.

As I explained in the previous article, he crossed the line when he tried to push me into his bed with extreme force, when I had clearly stated that I wanted to leave and did not want to have sex with him. Luckily, I was able to push him off of me and stood up and tried to leave. He wouldn’t let me leave and chased after me, pulling my arm roughly and begging me to stay. Before that experience, I hadn’t seen that side of him. He had not been physically aggressive before. It was scary and alarming. After I texted him and told him how I felt about it, he told me he just couldn’t help himself because he loved me so much. While I was apprehensive about it, I took his word for it. He asked me to make the relationship official and he became my boyfriend.

After that, his aggression and manipulation grew worse. One of our mutual friends invited me to a party that I knew he was going to. He once again told me to not be clingy and not spend as much time with him, which I was more than fine with, considering many of my friends were going to be there. When he saw that I felt comfortable being with my friends instead of being with him, he decided to stay by my side throughout the night. He started touching me sexually in front of his friends, which I was definitely not okay with. When it was time for me to leave, he begged me to go to his car and have sex with him. I said no. He once again pulled my arm with force and told me to stay. He said I had to stay. This time, it was in front of my friends. None of them seemed to notice that his behavior was not healthy, nor okay.

My friends, who were not aware of what was truly happening in the relationship, would comment on how cute we were together and how they also wished they had a boyfriend like him. I played along with it, due to my desire of not being seen as a failure. Girls in my school had toned the bullying down since the relationship started and I knew I couldn’t afford to lose that—even if it meant being in an unhappy relationship. A few weeks later, after dealing with more lies and manipulation, I decided that I wanted to stop dating him. I then heard from a friend of a friend that he told everyone in his school that he enjoyed controlling me and that I was a whore. I lost friends because of him, due to them not wanting to be associated with me nor his actions. After I lost my friends and stopped talking to him,  I thought I was at least free from him. However, he decided to weasel himself back into my life.

He would send texts saying that he hated me, then vied for my attention by trying to charm me into getting back with him. He’d send me sexually inappropriate messages, claiming that there was nothing I wanted more than his dick. He would comment on my things on Facebook and insult me for wanting to study away from home. He’d pretend to be a changed man and friendly, then go back to saying demeaning things. He’d flaunt the abusive behavior he participated in with his new girlfriends, bragging about how he wouldn’t allow his new girlfriend use birth control. It made me feel extremely uncomfortable, and rightly so.

It took me years to break away from him. At first, I didn’t understand why it was so difficult for me to simply cut contact from him. I could just block his number and Facebook and move on with my life— yet the fear of him forcing himself back into my life lingered. I think it took time to recognize how damaging my relationship with him was because I thought abusive relationships only involved domestic violence. I thought my experienced paled in comparison. However, I now recognize that even if he wasn’t as harmful as other men who have beaten women and put their lives at risk, this still qualifies as an abusive relationship.

It’s disturbing to know that someone could romanticize such a relationship—especially a female writer. I find it insulting that E.L. James decided to sell a manipulative, abusive man as some sort of ultimate sexual fantasy for women. Christian Grey is not my fantasy, he is my nightmare, and there’s no reason why he should be considered as anything positive.

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6 thoughts on “Christian Grey Is My Worst Nightmare

  1. Although Christian Grey is an advocate in BDSM (due to his troubled childhood but I won’t go into that) he does not necessarily provoke it towards Anastasia.. in both the novel and film he warns Anastasia of his fetish constantly and consistently. And as you mentioned, in order to participate in BDSM, ‘full consent and communication is needed between sexual partners’ and that is exactly what was portrayed. Anastasia knew what she was getting into, with Christian revealing the ‘red room’ and clearly stating that she was free to leave or question by free will. Anastasia participated mainly because she wanted to understand him in a more intrinsic level of how he became this controlling and reserved man, stating repeatedly ‘show me then Christian’ even after Christian showed her the room and explained his fetishes.

    Although I completely agree with you saying that many people can view it as glamourising abusive relationships, especially if someone is involved in an emotional one and view this and could interpret it as being ‘normalised’ I also believe that many fail to see Christian’s Grey side of the story. In a society where we are trying to progress into moving forward and accepting and understanding people, shouldn’t we try to empathise with Christian a little more? We fail to take note that he is well more than aware of his dominant tendencies and hates himself for it. You see (more so in the book) that once he meets Anastasia, he is willing to change once he realises how uncomfortable and hurt she was. To my interpretation, Christian Grey was not manipulative. The only time this was evident was when he found where she worked but ONLY to give her his contact details where she was FREE to make a conscious decision whether or not they wanted to meet. Rather than viewing Christian Grey as nothing more than an ‘manipulative and abusive man’ and disregarding his attempts to change the way he is (and you see that evidently through his breaking down his barriers as he becomes more intimate with Anastasia through so so many compromises), shouldn’t we instead view him as someone who is certainly troubled but has a heart. He acknowledges that he is a man ‘that does not love and can never love’ due to societal portrayals but what if society glorified him and told him that he was capable of love (as did Anastasia)…the result? Major progress into his personality traits, behaviours and actions.

    • Except you ignore the numerous instances where Anastasia removes consent through saying the safe word, and then he continues, anyways. That’s abuse. That’s even rape.

    • I highly suggest you read the link I will attach. Although, the people who support this movie will never read facts and direct quotes from the books because if you can look at the quotes and tell me you would be fine if it happened to you, a friend, your sister, your child… you need mental assistance. There is no “shades of grey,” the relationship is abusive and he, by legal definition, rapes her various times throughout the series. There is no “progress into his personality traits, behaviors and actions,” Ana just becomes to beaten into submission through his abuse and manipulation and stalking that he has nothing left to get out of her. Again, please read the link.
      http://weareneveroutofthewoods.tumblr.com/post/111531293923/itsy8itsyspiders8log

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