The story of convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky is well known. So too is the 50 Shades of Grey phenomena, a book that has become so popular among women that some are referring to it as “Mommy Porn” for the masses. That description is actually a lot more disturbing than a lot of folks are currently realizing.
Yes, 50 Shades is pornography. Like most pornography, the storyline is weak, the characters one-dimensional, while the sex itself graphic, detailed, but formulaic. The underlying theme to 50 Shades is something far more sinister and appalling though than your mere run-of-the-mill porn. It is pedophilia. It is child porn. Kiddie porn.
Now I know after saying that, many female fans of 50 Shades, many of them mothers, will naturally put up a defense against that kind of description. These women, being mothers, are naturally wired to protect kids. People like Jerry Sandusky are viewed with hatred, revulsion, and disgust. Rightfully so. What mother would want to condone anything having to do with the sexual abuse of children? Of innocents?
But that is exactly what 50 Shades of Grey is really about. It is a story of a girl being sexually molested, over and over again, by a male figure with all the power, all the control. It is the classic abuse scenario. And mothers are, in some cases, quite literally getting off on it, which takes the disgust of this phenomena to a whole other frightening level.
So having put that out there, and I hope I haven’t lost any of you just yet. I owe you an explanation after having made that kind of accusation about a book some of you may be reading right now. I’ll start with a bit of background first.
My professional experience centers around nearly 20 years with Child Protective Services. Over that time, I’ve seen situations that do, literally, keep me up at night. The amount of abuse that is going on in our society, that sexualization of our kids…well basically, what you hear about, what is reported in the news, that is only a small sample of just how large of a problem and the disgusting acts that are going on every day. Kids are being raped. Kids are being abused. Every single day. Over and over and over again.
I didn’t seek out 50 Shades of Grey. It was brought to my attention by a longtime friend who is also a clinical psychologist at a university. She’s a bit older than me. She grew up in the counter culture era and did her fair share of experimentation of all kinds. So she’s hardly a prude. What she today though is a mother and grandmother. And she’s smart. One of the things that fascinates her is this age of cultural phenomena. How due to technology things now spread so quickly throughout society and become the next big thing at an increasingly rapid pace. She says sometimes this phenomena is pretty much harmless, and other times it can be very damaging to kids and or adults who begin to emulate something out of a need to belong to the “next big thing”.
Her reaction to 50 Shades of Grey though was much more aggressively negative than anything I could recall her talking about before. It came up because I mentioned it to her offhand. I had seen a couple mentions of it on the news and knowing her interest in cultural trends, asked her about it. She stopped talking, looked right at me, and said the book was about pedophilia. And it was her who then connected it to the Sandusky tragedy where so many young boys had been sexually abused. Sandusky committed his acts of crime under the cover of actually helping youth. That is how he gained access. My friend said 50 Shades was basically the same exact thing. Its cover was a story of a young woman engaging is a very graphic sexual relationship with a somewhat older man.
The problem for her, and it was a BIG PROBLEM, was that the narrator in the story, was in fact, an underage girl. My friend indicated, based on the use of language in the narration, that this girl was likely no more than 12 or 13 years of age. I made mention that the girl in the story was actually getting ready to graduate college. My friend, a woman with years of experience as a clinical psychologist, whose expertise I had personally witnessed a number of times over the years, shook her head and told me that she would not be able to convince me by simply talking about it. She said I should read the book myself, but do so with the eyes of somebody whose job it had been for many years to try and protect children. As someone who has seen over and over the signs of abuse, and the damages of abuse. Because there are always warning signs. I know that. How many times have I heard people horrified in saying “I can’t believe I didn’t see that” “How couldn’t I have known?” Or even worse, “I knew something wasn’t right but I didn’t want to believe they were capable of doing something like that.”
I’ll try and summarize my friend’s words at this point as best I can.
“Sexual predators are cons. They almost always have a cover. It’s that cover which allows them access. 50 Shades of Grey is a con. It now has access to millions of readers. It is a story about abuse from beginning to end. And it’s not just the abuse of a man and a woman – it’s the abuse of a man and a girl.
When you read it, look for the signs. They are all there.
The female character has no sexual experience. None. She is given the age of 21, but that age is itself a cover. Her true emotional age is much-much younger. She has never even masturbated. She has never even experienced an orgasm. That alone is one of the greatest attractions to the pedophile. That is the psychology of that kind of act. You get off on taking purity.
But move from the fact the girl has no sexual experience whatsoever. Now pay attention to her narrative dialogue. Really listen to how she talks. Again, she’s not talking like a young woman, she’s talking like a girl. She talks about cartwheels, and skipping, over and over again it is the language and the imagery of a girl.
After that this girl has her innocence taken from her. The abuser, the older man, makes her think its her choice. Again, you and I both know that is one of the primary tools of the pedophile. They create an environment where the child feels it’s their idea. It’s what they want. But what happens after that innocence is taken away? Then the abuser becomes more openly abusive. Controlling. In this story he tells the little girl how to speak. What to wear. What to eat. He is Daddy and she is daughter. When you read it read it like a mother who is also a woman who is experienced with the real life tragedy of abuse.
And there is many more themes about that abuse in this book. There is spanking and the use of Baby oil. Why baby oil? Think about it. The girl wears pigtails. She complains that he is treating her like a child. He says she acts like a child. There is even a scene where the abuser creates a situation to take her innocence from her again. He rips out her tampon and engages in forceful sex yet again. Her hymen is ripped, and the bloody remnants of it are again symbolized in an act of pedophile rape.”
She went on to say there are women now defending the book, and she understands that, but it concerns her. A great deal, because she is absolutely convinced the book is purposely advocating the raping of a child and attempting to normalize that atrocity.
So, I left that conversation thinking maybe my friend was exaggerating. I had a hard time believing something so popular could actually have such a sinister and revolting theme, and while I respected her expertise and experience, thought this time she had to be seeing something that just wasn’t there.
I got the book, I sat down, and I read it.
The first thing that struck me was how poor the writing was. It wasn’t just bad. It was horrible. But horrible writing is no crime, (thank goodness or I would have been put away a long time ago) and it doesn’t make the content of the story evil. But in my reading of it, just like my friend said, the theme of child abuse, of pedophilia, was right there in plain sight. I remember being told a long time ago that sometimes the best way to hide something is in plain sight. That is what 50 Shades of Grey is really doing.
The main character had no sexual experience. None. She was an innocent. She was a kid who had just had her first drink of alcohol. No way that was an accident by the author. That author had to have purposely made her, despite her given age of 21, by any other measure, a little girl. At that point, it struck me as odd. In my business, we call that a warning signal. A sign we may have a problem.
From there, just like my friend had warned, it got worse. Much worse. And she was right, her telling me about it did not have the impact of me reading it myself with eyes open. She had given me the signs to look for, and as I turned the pages, those signs confirmed it over and over again.
The narration, which is the voice of the girl talking to the reader, was the voice of a little girl. It’s unmistakable. There is very little emotional maturity and absolutely no sexual maturity. She is seduced by this man in the very same way a pedophile seduces a child. The male character is Gerry Sandusky. He makes a show of his money, his power, the things he can buy for her, but while this is going on, we are reading the thoughts of a child. We are reading the seduction of a little girl by a pedophile. She is almost completely powerless. She is naïve even for a teenager, and certainly much much more naïve than a college student. She is incapable of even making the most simple of every day decisions and must be told what to do by her abuser, who in turn though spends a lot of time and effort convincing this child this is really what she wants. I’ve seen this before. Too often. Too many times. And it always leaves me sickened.
We are reading child pornography. Remove the false age of the girl, which has no basis in reality, and what we are actually reading is the abuse of a little girl.
The main character is described in pigtails, given words like “Holy Cow” “down there”, “jeez” “double crap” she can’t operate a computer (but is supposedly a college graduate), describes skipping and doing cartwheels, repeatedly says she is made to feel like a child, has her imaginary friend (inner goddess) feels shame, is spanked and slathered in BABY OIL, told what to say, what to eat, what to do, until finally and sadly so predictably, is physically beaten. (But she returns to him soon after, which is again, a very common theme of abuse, including pedophilia)
And beyond all of this evidence there is the fact that the male character is himself a product of sexual abuse at the hands of a pedophile. The girl whose thoughts we listen in on as she is being abused, recognizes this aspect of the male abuser, but apparently, is too naïve or unwilling to realize she has continued this cycle of abuse herself. (Which again reinforces the idea that she is actually herself just a child) There is no way the author did this by accident. She puts out the theme of pedophilia openly, therefore hiding it in plain sight.
People who have had to deal with the real world of sexual abuse of children will understand this perhaps more easily than others. How the pedophile is so often themselves victims of earlier abuse. They enter society, they become fathers or mothers, but so often they too become abusive. They seek out dominance, control, and the taking of innocence just as it was taken from them. Those who were once abused, become the abuser. It is the sad sick and tragic cycle of pedophilia.
With 50 Shades of Grey this abnormal condition is trying to be normalized. Thanks to the insight of my friend, and my own experience, I know it for what it truly is – a story of the sexual abuse of child, wrapped in the cliché cover story of a mysterious and troubled wealthy man. That is another thing my clinical psychologist friend pointed out later. Take away the aspect of money, and the character of the abuser becomes much less attractive and therefore it would have been much more difficult to pull of the deception. Are women actually that shallow? Yes, we can be.
But women, the vast majority of us, are not people who knowingly condone the sexual abuse of children. We do not condone in any way, the horror that is pedophilia.
Sadly though, that is exactly what is happening with the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey. It’s a pedophilia con.
It is one of the most horrible and sickening acts against the most powerless of our society, hiding in plain sight.
Maybe my friend put it best when we talked all of this over. 50 Shades of Grey didn’t excite her. She didn’t find it interesting, sexy, or romantic.
50 Shades of Grey made her weep. It made her sick. It made her think of the abuses of all of those kids by a demented, warped monster like Jerry Sandusky, who, just like the pedophilia of 50 Shades of Grey, was hiding in plain sight.