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Fifty Years of Grey


Just when I thought things couldn’t be getting any darker, I began hearing about “Fifty Shades of Grey.” By now, we all know the storyline is about a sadomasochistic sex addict and his young recruit. How is it that in this day and age we are not revolted by the male character’s resultant penchant for deviant forms of sexual abuse as a means of coping with the trauma of childhood abuse? What are young women to think of the female character who doesn’t run away from the abuser? I hate to believe that society has so debased itself as to make the book and movie a worldwide phenomenon.

Some people will dismiss the book and movie as fantasy, but the reality is, media both reflects and shapes our society. Children growing up today are going to have little chance to understand what it means to be in a committed, loving, respectful and secure relationship due to the fact that there are fewer and fewer role models emulating the values, self-control and self-respect that is a prerequisite for life-long fulfillment. Too many people today have divorced themselves from the foundation of mutual respect and admiration that serves to build healthy relationships. And now this: Millions expressing interest in a fantasy relationship based on nothing less than pathological abuse on every level imaginable. How did we come to this place? I blame it on the 1960s.

In the ’60s, we sowed seeds of upheaval from which we have never recovered. At the heart of the revolution was the abandonment and destruction of the nuclear family. Nowhere was this more evident than that part of the revolution having to do with sexuality and relationships composed of three main aspects. One had to do with women’s rights, abortion rights and the rise of the feminist movement. A second component had to do with so-called free love and the mainstreaming of sex outside of marriage. The third component had to do with no-fault, easy-to-obtain, no-need-to-explain divorce.

Subsequently, women left the home for the workplace, and for the most part gave up childbirth and child-rearing as a meaningful occupation. The most dangerous place in the world for a child came to be in its own mother’s womb. In the meantime, we destroyed marriage as an institution, eroding what should have been a stable foundation in every child’s life. We also sowed the seeds that divorced sex from the ideals of meaningful, committed relationship, hence the modern-day hook-up culture and the eschewing of marriage altogether. What we are left with now is a culture divorced from stable, life-long relationships, values and mores that serve as the essential building block of a healthy society.

Desperate to address one current symptom of societal breakdown, California State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson recently authored the “Yes means Yes” law, attempting to protect women from sexual abuse arising from the hook-up culture via consent agreements. Ironic, isn’t it? “Fifty Shades of Grey” likewise features a consent agreement as a blueprint for abuse.

First Published in the Santa Barbara News Press


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