The solution to 50 Shades of Grey is a shouty Japanese man

Unless you’ve been hiking in the Himalayas recently, you are aware that 50 Shades of Grey is hitting our big screens this very day…just on time for Valentine’s Day. Clever, clever Universal.

I was going to write about why I don’t think this is good news think this is TERRIBLE, but then my friend Natalie NAILED IT.

And then a movie critic who was expecting to go and have a giggle at the ridiculous plot/terrible acting actually left feeling very disturbed.

And then a porn director warned against the harmful messages of the book/movie/franchise.

AND THEN, when all responses to the movie we thought possible had been made, Jamie Dornan admitted he still didn’t couldn’t quite work out why 50 Shades was so popular. Ok wow.

Ultimately, the problem with 50 Shades of Grey is not poorly-written erotica or BDSM sex. No, it’s deeper than that. The problem with 50 Shades of Grey is that is glorifies and romanticises misogyny and ABUSE. For a break-down of just how true that is, read this.

But in the vein of what I’ve been thinking about on the blog, about how to build rather than just deconstruct, how to find solutions rather than just problems, I think those of us who realise 50 Shades is problematic have a responsibility to figure out what the antidote is.

And to me, it came in the form of a shouty Japanese guy.

A friend linked to this video today:

Yep! Japan’s modest culture means that some men (and presumably, women) find it difficult to express love for their partners. Someone decided the solution to this would be for them to go VERY public with it – now, you may not agree with that solution/find the idea utterly terrifying, but I LOVE the fact that people are being encouraged to express their love for the people they’re with.

And I think this could be part of our solution to 50 Shades, folks.

I was talking to a friend who works with teenagers today about her fears around the impact the 50 Shades narrative could have on young people she knows in how they view relationships and boundaries and sexual agency.

And we can do two things:

1. We can explain why 50 Shades isn’t a good idea. (We should do that). But, also…

2. We can tell them what IS a good idea.

Japan isn’t the only place where people are fearful or embarrassed to share feelings of love or appreciation or unshackled I-fancy-your-socks-off-ness. But I think we can work through that without making people feel awkward or left out, or, indeed, sharing what should be kept sacredly private. And I think we need to.

We need to talk about what we are FOR. 50 Shades is making money out of REAL things that happen in the world. So we need to be aware of that and support those going through them. We also need to create a loud culture that celebrates other ways – ways of hearing both parties, ways of consenting strongly and together, ways of loving each other well, ways of giving each other space, ways of providing room for each other to grow.

So can I encourage you to talk about the good stuff? Talk about how your girlfriend or husband or spouse has loved you well? Can you model consent? The way you resolve conflict with respect – can you help other people do that? The balance of individual identity and unity: can you explain that?

I’ll start us off.

Dan knew I had a really busy start to the week and, even though I didn’t ask him to, made some amazing food, tidied the house and got us to laundry basket: zero – despite himself having a LOT on.

We spent time with my relatives a couple nights ago. Dan has always been very open with my family and my friends. He doesn’t try to take me away from them or hide himself from them, either.

And yep, Valentine’s Day tomorrow. We have little things that we will surprise each other with, but just as we make life decisions together, we discussed what we both wanted to do and worked out a plan. Together. Consent can be sexual, but it can also be in how time or resources are spent. (And a word on consent. Only yes means yes…and it should always be a very loud, enthusiastic, YES.)

Your turn.

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