02.08.2015 06:13 PM

Fifty shades of domestic abuse

Last night, my (feminist) partner and I went to see a movie.  The trailers came on, and one was for Fifty Shades of Grey, which has attracted no small amount of controversy.  When we got home, I looked up the plot on Wikipedia.  Here’s what I read:

“The tension between Ana and Christian eventually comes to a head after Ana asks Christian to punish her…Christian fulfills Ana’s request, beating her with a belt.”

That’s how the thing ends, apparently.  Sound like entertainment to you? Me neither.

Anyway, I tweeted this:

Which attracted a fair bit of agreement, but also this:


I thought that was an idiotic comment, and suggested the author do PR for Jian Ghomeshi. She responded that I was “cheap and uninformed.” That may be so, but I got curious about my correspondent. So I went looking, and here’s what I found:

FullSizeRender copy 3

Wow. So I asked her this:

She didn’t respond. She did, however, delete her earlier tweets, in which she defended the beating of a woman with a belt.

Today’s NDP: still full of shit.


  1. Hugh Whalen says:

    I have not seen the movie nor read the book but when the book was popular I asked a female friend of mine why it was so popular. She said it was the ultimate female fantasy.

    I thought, really? The female fantasy is being beaten and subjugated?

    Of course not, she replied. At the end of the book the man changes. The female fantasy is that women can change men.

    I still don’t know how to respond to that …

  2. Trefor says:

    um….bdsm fantasies are incredibly common. Millions of people – my wife among them – have read and enjoyed the fantasies in 50 shades of grey. Trying to force this into being about some commentary about domestic abuse is just silly.

    The only thing that should be controversial here is why people didn’t read any of the much better written novels out there instead.

  3. Doconnor says:

    Canadians have the right to end thier pain and they have the right to cause themselves pain.

    • Peter says:

      Wow, there’s a statement of national purpose for the 21st century. It should be on a poster in all classrooms. I guess that peace, order and good government schtick was getting a bit stale.

  4. DJ says:

    That last line about the NDP had me howling with laughter!!! Priceless and totally true on a lot of issues.

  5. davie says:

    Oh, man, I am not looking forward to election campaigns of increasing numbers of gotcha tweets. A well informed citizenry that is needed in modern democracy is people who know how to dig up the dirt. 4th estate no longer needed!

  6. Nicole says:

    That is a pretty ignorant comment for someone in that position to make. It only takes a Google search to read that the male protagonist is emotionally abusive and that the BDSM community has stated this book is not reflective of their practices.

    Most women I know thought it was poorly written garbage. There are plenty of better books out there.
    It’s like how the Kardashians continue to have fame. Inexplicable and depressing to think about.

  7. Steve T says:

    Even if there are truly some people (men and women) who enjoy this type of thing, which strikes me as bizarre, I’d say you had better be pretty darn confident as the “aggressor” that your partner loves you and won’t become disillusioned or p.o.’d at you. Because there will be very few sympathetic ears if your partner goes to the cops with bruises all over him/her, and you try to suggest it was “consensual”.

    Furthermore, even if your partner apparently “wants” this treatment, what type of sicko enjoys giving it?

  8. Lance says:

    Good nugget on the dig WK. Even though you’ve been out of the game in a war-room kind of way, you’ve still got it, LOL

  9. Eric Weiss says:

    Gomeshi, if guilty of what he is accused of, never gained consent. In a real BDSM relationship the sub has all the power. NOTHING happens without their consent. If a Domm crosses the line, that’s where safe words come in, and it stops. And Believe it or not, some people get off on being smacked with a belt. We may not like it, we may not understand it, but what two consenting adults do in the bedroom, (or dungeon) is none of our business.


    Never read the book, don’t plan on seeing the movie.

  10. BrianK says:

    Weirdly, I too recently Wikipedia’d Fifty Shades of Grey, because I haven’t read it, and I don’t want to see the movie, but I was interested in knowing what the fuss what about. Without defending how it’s portrayed in the book (which I have not read), it *is* true that the BDSM community takes this stuff very seriously and has all kinds of rules around consent and safety. An acquaintance of mine hosts bi-monthly “safe practices in BDSM” sessions, he’s quite deep into lifestyle (and it really is a lifestyle, as I’ve learned from him). One of the most interesting pieces of commentary that I read in the wake of Ghomeshi came from a BDSM practitioner discussing the community’s feelings around choking (in short, many believe it’s not okay even with consent, because it’s too inherently risky). So yes, on it’s face, hitting someone with a belt is abuse. But when rules are clearly negotiated and consent clearly provided (which seems to have not happened in the Ghomeshi case, and that’s key) it becomes a lot murkier. I know it’s hard for people to wrap their minds around how the idea of being hit can provide an erotic thrill, but this does seem to be the case for a not insignificant number of people.

  11. patrick says:

    It’s a tedious, poorly written, fantasy bondage novel, at least that was my impression of the 5 pages I skimmed in a bookstore (really). Some how, some way it caught on and became a hit. Hardly a threat to women and feminism, and besides, we have no business in the bedrooms of consensual adults, even in fiction. Honestly, I wish it was more offensive and outrageous because those same people chewing on their nails in puritan outrage are also the people who believe that “the market should rule” and aneurysms would occur with the internal conflict of ideologues.

  12. Terry Brown says:

    With the obligatory “i don’t do this but…” disclaimer that precedes almost all these types of discussions (I wonder who is interested in this stuff? Californians mostly, i expect), it is a fact that that ‘unusual’ sexual appetites generally, and bdsm in particular, have been around for hundreds of years. Now, I think a reasonably cogent argument for their prevalence could be constructed around the lines of male-patriarchy-subjagating-women, etc., but at the same time there are people that do seem to enjoy this stuff. So, rather a long comment to say that I don’t know the right answer or how you measure consent, but it does seem clear that sexual freedom does include the freedom to do some things that the majority of society find distasteful.

  13. Patrice Boivin says:

    apparently Jessica Lee is just a staffer

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