Anybody who has stepped foot outside in the past few months will be familiar with the newest obsession sweeping the nation. The first part of fifty shades of grey, originally a trilogy of books by E. L. James, has become one of the fastest selling films of all time....
The film follows an innocent young woman’s journey from meeting the infamous Mr Christian Grey, to becoming his sex slave and inevitably falling in love with him. This rather risqué topic has been eagerly embraced by millions of women. However, it led me to consider how the public would have reacted if the gender roles were reversed and a dominant, successful, older woman was controlling every aspect of a man’s life.
Christian is notoriously controlling of Anastasia, telling her what to eat, what to wear and banning her from certain activities. These actions are all portrayed throughout both the novel and the film as a positive; Mr Grey is being protective, caring and just doing his ‘job’ as a man. However, if Christian had been written as Christine the character would be seen as the ultimate crazy girlfriend who let her partner do nothing without her supervision due to extreme paranoia and jealousy. Why is it then that a man controlling a woman is perceived as ‘sexy’ but women who control men are seen as crazy?
Without question, the most controlling part of Christian’s personality is in the bedroom, restraining Anastasia and giving her little freedom to prevent his advances. Whilst bondage is, by its very nature, restrictive, it is still undertaken with the understanding that it is consensual and can be stopped if necessary. However there are key points in the story where Christian does not give Anastasia the opportunity to stop. Without labelling the act as rape, this sends a very clear message that it is ok for a man to take whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Would it be accepted if a woman tied a man up and continued her actions despite his pleas for her to stop?
It is clear that the public are likely to have been much less receptive to a female version of the much loved Christian Grey. Men naturally lend themselves to positons of power and dominance due to their stature and typical roles as providers. However this attitude is not healthy, and highlights the double standard society holds surrounding gender stereotypes; men should be controlling but not weak, and women weak but not controlling. The fact society cannot accept a female version of Mr Grey indicates that the type of man the character represents should not be accepted either. Personality traits should not be restricted to one gender, so if behaviour is unacceptable for a woman, it should be equally unacceptable for a man. Why are thousands of women buying into basic rape by a man as sexy when it should be seen as disgusting is anyone raped someone else, regardless of their daddy issues.