Friday, February 20, 2015

50 shades of abuse.

Today I got into an argument about "50 Shades of Grey" with my friends telling me that I can't preach the horribleness of it without having actually read the books/seen the movie. Which is a great point: how to form an educated opinion on something without actually delving deep into its intricacies?
But the thing about 50 shades is that lots of people, far better educated and informed than me, have read it and published their opinions on the web. Along with tons of source material to the point of nearly publishing the entire books. And I concur, you don't have to listen to me but I really feel the need to make my point to you and hopefully make you think about the horrors that mainstream media spoonfeeds you.

Okay so for some background info that you maybe knew, maybe didn't.
"50 Shades of Grey" was written in 2011 by E. L. James whose actual name is Erika Mitchell. The novel started out as a twilight erotica fanfiction (if you don't know, fanfiction is a fan-published free work that uses the characters from popular movies, books, games, tv-shows etc and creates new stories around these characters. There are many sites for publishing such works) this particular fic was published in 2009 on and the author used the pen name "Snowqueen's icedragon"

Now, the book itself mainly uses themes from the BDSM culture such as bondage, dominance/submission and even sadism/masochism. And well, it goes without saying that it is essentially pornography. Which is probably exactly why it sold so well.
Porn in our culture is still widely frowned upon. Specially in America, where abstinence is actually taught in schools and where the church tells you that masturbation is the highest kind of sin. A book that's sold in bookstores and that everyone reads, however, is fair game. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Human sexuality should not be considered a taboo. The problem, however, arises from the same place where the problems with the entire porn industry arise: women are almost always treated as sexual objects for mens desire. Violence against them is the norm, it's even encouraged.
Upon closer inspection, Fifty Shades of Grey is not just harmless “mommy porn.” it clearly depicts a deeply abusive relationship in which its protagonist suffers emotional and physical violence at the hands of her partner. And, worst of all, it doesn’t seem to realize this.
And this isn't just people pulling "facts" out of their asses:
Amy Bonomi, professor and chairperson of Michigan State University’s Department of Human Development and Family studies, has made some disturbing findings. A thorough 2013 study of the book concludes that “emotional and sexual abuse is pervasive in the novel,” appearing in almost every interaction between the protagonists, Anastasia and Christian. Both exhibit textbook signs of abuse: Christian, the so-called love interest, actively stalks Ana, purchasing her place of work and tracking her whereabouts through an app on her phone (“No place to run. I would find you. I can track your cell phone—remember?”). He controls her behaviors, her food intake, and dictates who she is allowed to spend her time with, isolating her from friends and family. He belittles her, threatens her and blames her. As a consequence, Ana is afraid of making Christian angry, afraid to talk to her friends, and insecure in her own personhood (“He’d probably like to beat seven shades of s*** out of me. The thought is depressing”).
I know no-one is going to bother reading it but here is the 2013 study titled "‘‘Double Crap!’’ Abuse and Harmed Identity in Fifty Shades of Grey" and it is extremely detailed. At least glance at it, I beg of you.

The book itself prays on safe middle-aged women who have no knowledge of anything BDSM-related. It advocates itself as BDSM but in reality is very far from it. Properly conducted BDSM "scenes" are about trust and consent. Of course there are bad apples and abusive partners within that community but that is something that needs to be seriously talked about and not glorified. Forgive me for citing wikipedia on this but that does't make it any less credible.
Aside from the general advice related to safe sex, BDSM sessions often require a wider array of safety precautions than vanilla sex (sexual behavior without BDSM elements). In theory, to ensure consent related to BDSM activity, pre-play negotiations are commonplace, especially among partners who do not know each other very well. In practice, pick-up scenes at clubs or parties may sometimes be low in negotiation (much as pick-up sex from singles bars may not involve much negotiation or disclosure). Ideally, these negotiations concern the interests and fantasies of each partner and establish a framework of both acceptable and unacceptable activities. This kind of discussion is a typical "unique selling proposition" of BDSM sessions and quite commonplace. Additionally, safewords are often arranged to provide for an immediate stop of any activity if any participant should so desire.
And yes, it does say that in practice, in clubs, negotiatons leave something to be desired but we are not talking about a one-time "scene" here, we are talking about a man who wished something far more permanent. And you may argue that he had a contract for Anastasia but it was entirely composed by HIM, taking into account only what HE wanted and she had no say in it whatsoever. That is not healthy by any means. No matter how you look at it, he was pressuring her into things she didn't wish to do.

Again, while BDSM can include power and pain exchanges outside of the bedroom (e.g., ordering a partner to eat), typically these exchanges involve consenting parties and those who have worked out an egalitarian negotiation process. The interlocking pattern of control used by Christian—including stalking, intimidation, isolation, and humiliation—begin before the couple even establishes a connection, in Christian’s initial stalking of Anastasia at the hardware store. This early example of stalking, intimidation, humiliation, and isolation sets the couple up for a gross power imbalance in their relationship, which continues throughout their interactions.

After their formal dinner to negotiate the terms of the BDSM contract, Anastasia enters her car and cries: ‘‘Soon tears are streaming down my face, and I don’t understand why I’m crying. I was holding my own.He wants me.I need him to want me like I want and need him.deep down I know that’s not possible. I am just overwhelmed’’ (p.229). Before a formal contract is negotiated, Anastasia is spanked 18 times for rolling her eyes at Christian. After this incident, Anastasia is confused and admits to herself that she ‘‘can’t say that [she] enjoyed the experience. In fact, [she] would still go a long way to avoid it.’’ (p. 277)

Raincheck: she is clearly extremely uncomfortable with what is going on, in emotional turmoil and left hanging after each of their sexual encounters. In BDSM done right, this should not be so: the partners involved should deal with the fallout as well, not just worry about getting their rocks off:
In the context of the sexual practice of BDSM, aftercare is the process of attending to one another after intense feelings of a physical or psychological nature relating to BDSM activities.
BDSM experiences can be exhausting; and drain the participants of mental, emotional or physical energy. As a result, one or all participants may require emotional support, comfort, reassurance, and/or physical tenderness. Along with this, they may experience everything from an exhilaration to traumatization. Aftercare also may include a review or “debriefing” of the activities from experiences of both the dominant and the submissive.

All of this is in the end nicely spun into "but she totally wanted it in the end" which, in the eyes of the rest of the world, apparently means that everything is a-okay.
Reprehensible threats and behavior are represented as playful fun; force ends up being acceptable because, although it starts with Anastasia’s terror, it ends with her enjoyment. This is what women want, says Fifty Shades of Grey: the perpetuation of violent rape culture. Here, coercion is acceptable, abuse is extolled, and consent is ignored. Psychiatrist Dr. Miriam Grossman sums it up well: “Fifty Shades of Grey teaches your daughter that pain and humiliation are erotic, and your son, that girls want a guy who controls, intimidates and threatens.”
~Relevant Magazine
And you may argue that it's just a book but as the author of this article in Relevant Magazine says: "The argument that “Fifty Shades of Grey is just fantasy!” has been popular in defending the movie’s treatment of its protagonist, but it doesn’t quite ring true. Unfortunately, for one in four American women, Fifty Shades is a brutal reality."
We are actually spreading the toxic idea that rape is enjoyable, abusive realtionships are something that you just need to accept.

I could go on, I think. I have a million tabs open for cross-refrencing but in the end I just made myself sad thinking about all of the impressionable young women who go into movie theaters to gobble up this dirt topped with a nice ribbon. They open themselves up for terrifying experiences that could potentially ruin their self-love and give them trust issues for life. We are far too easy to manipulate, we never stop to think whether we should accept something as truth or not, we just do.

Yes, I haven't read the books and no I'm still not going to pay to watch that movie. It endorses everything I, as a human being, as a woman, stand against. It scares me. It terrifies me. There have been several actual deaths related to this book:

Swedish man accused of killing girlfriend in Fifty Shades of Grey-style sado-masochistic sex game
Real-Life '50 Shades of Grey' Murder Details Emerge in CA Homicide

You don't have to take my word or even listen to it. But please, please, please at least glance at some of these sources that I have listed. And educate yourself on safe sexual practices. Please. Whatever your stance on "50 Shades of Grey", at least make a point of knowing better. Even wikipedia articles are better than nothing, they offer at least a basic rundown of what is safe, sane and consensual and what really, really isn't.


Relevant Magazine "The Real Abuse at the Heart of "Fifty shades of grey""
"Double Crap!" Abuse and Harmed Identity in Fifty Shades of Grey
BDSM article on wikipedia
Forbes: "Review - 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Is Abusive Gender Roles Disguised As Faux-Feminism"


Monday, January 19, 2015


Okay so since the exam session started two weeks ago, bambs and I have loads of time in the evenings because we are both absolutely the sort of people who cannot study after, like, 7 pm. Well, I could, if I was really desperate but at the moment I'm kind of cool on time and anyway whatever. The point is we have watched about a million films and I thought I would post them here and do a little recommendation sort of thing.

I'll do the 10 latest because otherwise this post will be riddiculously long. I'm not saying that it wont be as it is, but it'd be even

1. New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve Poster.jpg
"New Year's Eve Poster" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

This is probably one of those movies that absolutely everyone and their mother has seen already a thousand times but I honestly hadn't. I also didn't watch this with Bambs in Tartu, I was actually in Finland and it was right after the New Year's. Clearly.
So for those one-and-a-half people reading this, who haven't seen it, it's much like Paris, je t'aime, where its a collection of snippets from peoples lives but it all sort of comes together in the end, all these people are intertwined etc. Also there's a bunch of really famous actors and actresses in the cast.
I really liked this movie actually, I'm a real sucker for romantic movies and specially the kind of calm ones, where nothing too important happens and it's not like the survival of the world is at balance or something, you know what I mean? Am I alone in this? The point is that it's definitely something to enjoy during the winter hols. I presume that watching it with a significant other is probably the cosiest but I found that a nice cup of Bailey's did the trick, too.

IMDb link

2. 2012

2012 Poster.jpg
"2012 Poster" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

So I'm reaaaalllllly fucking behind with this one, I know. But fact of the matter is that I absolutely did not want to watch it. However, I was in finland, my brother-in-law had the remote and I didn't have a choice. So I bitched the entire way.
Okay so the premise for this movie was obviously the supposed end-of-the-world that was promised for december in 2012 and loads of people actually believed in. However, this movie explained the ridiculous catastrophe by, quite possibly, THE most far-fetched theory, that the "neutrinos had mutated and they're heating up the planet". Or something. If you don't understand why that is dumb, an Irish stand-up comedian Dara O'Briain has explained it quite well. I didn't actually see the very beginning, but I doubt I missed out on a whole lot. Apparently, however, the governments of the entire world had known this and built three "arks" that were supposed to host some people who would later repopulate the world. Some people and animals. Two from every species. Which is really absolutely idiotic. This whole movie was idiotic.
Needless to say I didn't exactly like it. I found some humor in it and if you are the kind of person who can waste perfectly good two hours on pointing out every inconsistency in a movie and actually kind of enjoy it, this is definitely one of those movies. But overall, I would rather knock myself unconscious with a frying pan than watch this bullshit again.

IMDb link

3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. (Part 1 & 2)

Breaking Dawn Part 1 Poster.jpg
"Breaking Dawn Part 1 Poster" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

Yes. Yes I did.
I'm going to presume that everyone who has read the books and is a fan, has seen the movies, and those who haven't never will. Good for you. I'm genuinely happy that you have managed to steer clear.
Okay so Twilight is a literal guilty pleasure of mine. Not guilty pleasure as in "Oh I like to put ketchup on my sandwiches occasionally". No, that's not a guilty pleasure, it's just an uncommon thing to do, you don't feel guilty about it. I, however, actually feel guilty about enjoying twilight every once in a while because I know what poisonous ideas about relationships this saga contains. And yet, I occasionally find myself drawn to it. And then I feel guilty.
The point is that I have read all the books when I was a tween, and I had also seen the first three movies, however reluctantly (at this point I had already read up on how abusive the whole saga is) but I hadn't seen the last two. And I must admit, I was curious.
My sisters are still big fans of the series, don't ask me why, and when my sister's tv downloadable listing thing came up with Breaking Dawn part 1 I said what the heck and watched it.
And it isn't even that bad. It actually follows the book extremely closely and it has managed to spice it up a little too (the fight scene at the end of the second movie is ACTUALLY a fight scene, fancy that.)
I wouldn't exactly recommend this but I found myself not regretting it. So there, make of that what you will.

IMDb link; IMDb link part 2

4. High School Musical 3: Senior Year.

The six main cast members do their signature jump, this time in prom outfits and graduation gowns
"HSM 3 Poster". Via Wikipedia.

I'm not going to stand here and justify my choices, shut up.

IMDb link

5. Lolita (1997)

"Lolita1997" by Movie poster (designer unknown) for Lolita based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov. Via Wikipedia.

In my final year of high school, I think, I had to choose a book to read. I presume we had some criteria for choosing but I can't remember, anyway I figured that Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita" was something that intrigued me and it turned out I was right. I liked the book and I'm not going to go into the whys right now, maybe I'll do a book post at some point, but I decided that the movie was something I wanted to see and Bambs agreed. So we did.
If you haven't read "Lolita" then it's about a, well, a pervert. A man who likes young girls. Not any girls, but the ones he calls "nymphettes". It just so happens that he gets living quarters in a faux-french ladys house, who has a young daughter, who is a so-called nymphette. He marries the woman, she finds out about his creepy obsession with Lolita and promptly gets run over by a car. He then proceeds to take Lolita with him and drive all across the country doing the unmentionable with her. Its is worth mentioning that she was 10-13 years old I think in the books and he was perhaps in his 30s. I might be wrong, of course.
I liked the movie, as well. I thought it to be pretty well constructed and it followed the book in all the important bits. Lolita didn't really look her age and I think that bothered me the most, because it didn't look as perverted and wrong as it was in the book but, obviously, they couldn't hire a REAL 10-year old to play Lolita. I would definitely recommend the book. And once you have read it, the movie too. It gives you stuff to think about and is a nice conversation piece, if nothing else.

IMDb link

6. Princess Bride

Princess bride.jpg
"Princess bride" by 20th Century Fox - Impawards. Via Wikipedia.

Cross my heart and hope to die, I had not seen Princess Bride before. I just hadn't.
Princess bride is again one of the movies that slots nicely into the "everyone and their mother" category but I'll summarise anyway: lady falls in love with dude, something happens to dude, lady is heartbroken but eventually promises herself to rich guy, the first guy comes back, they have to fight the lackeys of the rich dude to get to the girl before the wedding, everything ends happily.
I found myself enjoying this movie a lot more than I thought I would. It was the right kind of funny, ridiculous, cute, lovely etc. I don't really feel that I need to say much about this movie, it's kind of an old classic and I would 100% recommend it if you haven't seen it yet.

IMDb link

7. Love Actually

Love Actually movie.jpg
"Love Actually movie" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

And we're going to continue with the "how the hell haven't you seen this?!" line.
Love actually is a lot like New Year's Eve in that it comprises of snippets from random peoples lives and sort of ties them all together in a nice bow at the end of the movie. Again, a christmas movie because seasonal and stuff.
I found myself occasionally zoning out during this, to the point where I felt like I almost hadn't seen the movie at all when it finished. I guess part of it was that I was rooting for some of the storylines and totally didn't care about the others, which made it a bit unbalanced. The massive list of famous people playing in it maybe helps a little. Also Alan Rickman talks about sex and I found it the most bizarre thing I could imagine. Snape should not say such things. I guess it's a nice movie but it just didn't capture my attention. Ah well.

IMDb link

8. Boyhood

Boyhood film.jpg
"Boyhood film" by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

Okay so finally, something new. The summary of this movie caught my eye, because the poster was literally everywhere and it really intrigued me.
So boyhood is a story about a completely normal young boy, starting when he was 5 and ending when he turned 18. What makes it really special, though, is the fact that this movie was filmed with the same cast over 12 years. So it's the same actor, who you can literally watch age up on the screen. The story itself is actually really mundane: the main character and his sister were brought up by a single mother who married again twice during the movie, divorcing both for similar reasons, the kid's father is a "cool dad" whom the kids are very taken to but they only see him every other weekend and we get to watch their father also go from this do-what-i-want person to a family man.
There really isn't anything to say about the plot but somehow the movie itself doesn't feel like the almost 3 hours it runs. It almost ends too quickly and too suddenly.
The only complaint I have about it, is that the transitions between scenes are abrupt and it is up to the viewer to try and sherlock out how much time has passed and what has happened. Some things are explained, some things are just left hanging. But even so, I definitely recommend it.

IMDb link

9. Eat Pray Love

Eat pray love ver2.jpg
"Eat pray love ver2" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

The only reason I decided to see this, was because of the hype that surrounded it few years ago. I should have known that it's a bad idea, but did it anyway.
Okay so this lady is having a young-life crisis about not liking her husband and job and being emotionally vacant. She leaves her husband and a boyfriend and takes a year off, starting in Italy, continuing with a spiritual retreat in India and then finishing off in Bali.
First of all I found the main character annoying as fuck. I don't know why, maybe I was jealous of her or maybe I just couldn't identify. Secondly, there was a big disconnection between her travels and what she supposedly learned and it just... It didn't come together for me. All I saw was a lady bumbling about the world, ploughing through everything in a rather American-like fashion and it left me feeling frustrated and annoyed. 0/10 would not recommend.

IMDb link

10. Corpse Bride

Corpse Bride film poster.jpg
"Corpse Bride film poster" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

I am pretty obsessed with Tim Burton and animated films. Those two have come together in The Nightmare Before Christmas, 9, Frankenweenie and Corpse bride. Somehow I hadn't seen any of those. Now I have seen one.
It is a story about a guy who is forced into a marriage by his parents. Against his own predictions, he falls in love with the girl even before the wedding but during the rehersal, he just couldn't get the words to come out right. So he ran away to practice them in the woods. Where he accidentally happens to marry a corpse.
I found this movie to be exactly the brand of creepy and beautiful and funny I usually find Tim Burton's movies. It was extremely well animated, written, voiced... Aesthetically pleasing... What else could you want from a movie? Definitely recommending to everyone who is into animated films. Absolutely.

IMDb link

The idea for this post, and some help with remembering what I have watched recently came from this site. It's a website for reviewing and cataloging the films you have watched, want to watch, etc. Pretty much like goodreads, except for movies. If I'm already in the flow of recommending things, it is a site that you should definitely check out, I got the weirdest kicks from marking down all of the movies I had seen and then just looking at the list and feeling accomplished.
If anyone is interested here is my profile. (shameless self-advertising never killed anyone)



My blog is five years old. Goodness gracious me.
Blog post coming tomorrow.