What 50 Shades of Grey and One Direction have in common.

That might be a little bit of a misleading title… but I think you’ll see my point eventually.

Let’s quickly run through my evolution with ’50 Shades of Grey’. As far as I can remember, it started with lots of hate, basically. I heard about it, and the way it deals with issues concerning rape, consent, domestic violence and laaaaarge amounts of stalking. I didn’t like it one bit.

Then I started getting into arguments and discussions with friends and realised that basically, I had no leg to stand on as I hadn’t actually read it. Cue me reading the 1st book about 3 or 4 years ago. I then, after witnessing first hand the terrible writing and all the above issues, became even more enamored with shouting ‘this book is awful, stop reading it! Educate yourselves!’ etc etc. And then I basically was over it, and bored and not bothered for the next 4 years.

Now however, the film is released, and everyone’s hype is back up into overdrive and I again, have things that I wanna say. However, they’re a little different to my previous views. I like to think I’ve taken my previous issues and instead moved on from them and sort of asked ‘why did I hate this book so much? Why does almost everyone hate this book so much?!’

This blog post won’t really be discussing the story or the issues involved within the book, I am more interested in the hype, the ideology and the culture surrounding it. So specifically I’m interested in how this piece of media is generally made by women, for women- and so society hates it. It really is as simple as that. That is what I am interested in.

One Direction's fans.

One Direction’s fans.

This ‘girl culture’ and society hating it, is not new. Take Miley Cyrus, One Direction, Twilight and the Kardashians; their main audience is young girls and women and so they’re generally ridiculed by society. It is no coincidence. Generally people see ’50 Shades’ as stupid and silly, and so in reflection of that girl culture is seen as stupid and silly. Most people think that they hate ’50 Shades’ because the writing is bad, or the representation of BDSM is bad etc, but really, the majority of people don’t really know why they hate it. They hate it because their friends do, or because the cool guy on their Facebook shared a LAD Bible post ridiculing it- people hate ’50 Shades’ because society hates it, because society hates things women like.

My opinion on these matters has reached such a level that I almost want ’50 Shades of Grey’ to do well. We need to encourage women and their interests to become unapologetically mainstream. Because literally everything else in mainstream media is catered to men, it is made by men for men and it always keeps in mind the male gaze. For example, the film ‘Blue Is The Warmest Colour’ was released in 2013 and explores the relationship between two women. It should have celebrated LGBT and its success should have pioneered more media created for that group. However is still had the male gaze front and center, probably because of its straight male director; and most LGBT viewers were disappointed.

The backlash to ’50 Shades’ is unbelievable. Domestic Violence campaigners have called for a boycott of the film, in which they want people to donate the cost of a ticket to the film to a Women’s Shelter. Although this seems noble in light of the questionable treatment of Ana by Christian in the books, how can this be happening when people like Mark Wahlberg, Sean Penn, Bill Cosby and Chris Brown are all still relatively successful and there is nowhere near the same backlash and push towards boycotting their careers?!

I think it’s funny to consider The Bible’s treatment of women. There’s one particular passage from 1 Timothy which states:

I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man: she is to keep silent – 1 Timothy 2:12

And yet people literally worship this book and it is the reason that women have had to fight for so many rights in this world; and people are boycotting ’50 Shades’? Get your shit together, people.

Society is too obsessed with looking towards all the bad things that could come of ’50 Shades’ instead of looking at what good can come of it. It has started a discussion surrounding domestic violence and consent. I’m hoping that these discussions can encourage readers/viewers to be aware of these issues and still enjoy the film. Issues surrounding ‘what is ok for women to do’ in society is also a discussion which I think ’50 Shades’ has started. Men watching porn, masturbating, being sexual are things that still hold stigma for women; hopefully ’50 Shades’ will begin to change that.

I think ’50 Shades’, although extremely problematic, can hopefully be more of an interestingly positive influence on society than a bad one. I’m hoping that it begins conversations and movements towards people becoming more educated about the aspects this book gets wrong. Mostly, I want women to accept other women regardless of whether they went to the cinema to see this film last weekend or not. Seeing ’50 Shades’ has become a lot like slut-shaming; shaming people for seeing this film is not cool. This is something which was made by women for women, and that should be celebrated.

If you’re going to see 50 Shades of Grey; educate yourself and have fun.

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The Revolution of Kim Kardashian

If there is one celebrity, apart from Justin Bieber, who can divide opinion it’s Kim Kardashian. To some people she is the embodiment of a ‘nobody’ in society, famous for nothing and in the media for nothing and people are bewildered at why she continues to be relevant. However, to other people (myself included) she has become somewhat of a 21st century feminist without perhaps consciously meaning to.

Famously, KimK rose to stardom because of a sex tape which began circulating in early 2007, and by October of that same year, she and her family were offered their now world famous reality show ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ which is currently in its ninth season. The tape was released by her ex-boyfriend, Ray J, without Kim’s consent and in turn betraying her trust; essentially attempting to tarnish her name and reputation. It’s also worth mentioning at this point that of course all of the backlash and judgement from the media was aimed at KimK and not at the boyfriend, go figure. Kim was slutshamed whilst Ray J received nothing of the sort. (Anyone else thinking of a certain Christina Aguilera song at the moment? No, just me? I’m just gonna leave this here).

Kim however, then uses this to her advantage. Instead of becoming a victim, which society expects and wants, she builds a career out of this new found fame and instead of feeling ashamed she fights back. And rightly so. Nakedness should not be an excuse to slutshame, degrade or refuse success to a woman. Modern society lives and thrives upon female nudity (advertisements, tv shows, films), yet as soon as this is used to benefit a woman, such as the success Kim has had and made for herself, and not for the benefit of a man, society is unsure how to react.

This brings us onto the enigma of Kim Kardashian. Given the recent celebrity photo scandal in which 4chan released hundreds of personal images owned by female celebrities, it became apparent how men truly believe the photos that these women have taken belong to them. That they are entitled to look at them. It is this entitlement that is linked to KimK’s sex tape. Society viewed the video, shared it, slutshamed and ridiculed Kim, and were then angry that she managed to carve a career out of this betrayal, this is evident in the way that she is treated in the media.

However, now Kim is in a committed marriage and she has a child, she now makes society feel uncomfortable. Whereas before she was ‘the girl with the sex tape’, ‘paris hilton’s friend’, ‘her with the reality show’, she no longer fits into a box. She continues to succeed in her business, her fame, her fashion, her marriage and embrace her sexuality AND seemingly be a good mother. She continues to challenge societies idea of how she should behave. She doesn’t dress like a ‘soccer mom’ or is photographed out buying groceries in sweatpants. She continues to be herself.

kimk and child I found this photo (left) on tumblr, where commenters likened KimK to this painting of ‘Madonna and Child’ which is universally acknowledged to be an embodiment of purity, virginity and innocence. KimK is wearing all black, vampy makeup, lace and a rather low cut dress and yet people have still made this comparison. The media continue to attempt to put Kim into a box, and so its refreshing to see individuals on the internet looking past what Kim is wearing because they know that it doesn’t matter. Ultimately, it fascinates me how Kim has managed to alter peoples views of her and become one of the most famous women in the world.