Saturday, February 14, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grief

I read Fifty Shades of Grey to see what all the hype was about. I have to say that I found it disturbing. I have no argument with adults exploring their sexuality in whatever manner they agree upon. What concerns me is the message this book sends to young men and women-teens.
The book doesn’t depict a loving, healthy relationship but manipulating games. I don’t want young girls or guys thinking this is what sex is about. Healthy sex is so much better then the grief that comes from trying to live up to someone's demands. I’d hate to have teens think they have to be like these characters to be desired by another. 
In my opinion, great sex happens when two willing partners come to the encounter and each is as concerned about the other’s pleasure as they are about their own. That doesn’t occur in this book. Anastasia is manipulated into the relationship. She’s an innocent who is teased by Christian, baited, coerced and made over into who he wants her to be. She lives in constant fear of his wrath. She may have baled early on in the relationship if her friend didn’t keep telling her how hot he is and lucky she is. This is a common occurrence in violent relationships. Outsiders don’t see the dark side of the abuser only the facade. Victims don't want to admit how afraid they are.
It’s hard to end teen dating violence when the media glamorizes bad boys, the ones who are cold, withhold love and feel entitled to have everything their way. These are red flags we want our teens to recognize and walk away from. Like Anastasia, women are drawn in because their compassionate hearts want to heal the guy’s pain. She cannot. While hope that he will change holds her in the relationship, she is not the one who needs to do the work to change him. That’s his job. If he’s not willing to do it, he will not change. One of the biggest emotional shackle for women is that he often claims to want to change but can’t without her help. This is a lie to make her feel in control of his healing and stay. It’s his responsibility to work on his false beliefs and the many issues that cause his behavior. If he doesn’t, there will be no change.
Teens should know that in a healthy relationship both partners are willing to share who they are and how they feel and those feeling are respected. Like Anastasia, to be denied the pleasure of caressing and pleasuring your partner is denying you the enjoyment of expressing your love. Just because there is an orgasm, doesn’t mean the sex is healthy. He may know the mechanics to bring her to orgasm, but without a loving two-way relationship sex is hollow. How she feels after the encounter is important. Healthy sex brings you closer and fills you with joy. Mechanical sex leaves you empty. Lack of connection heaps unhealthy baggage on a partner by someone with a ton of his own. A woman doesn't need to start her sexual journey with someone who skews her understanding of what a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship is.
This book is fantasy. As adults we’ve been around the block enough to know fantasy from reality. I am concerned that young, inexperienced women will rush into experimenting with fantasies before they’ve built a trusting relationship with their partner. When fantasizing, you are in control of the situation. When another person is introduce into the fantasy, you are no longer in complete control. Having a partner that plays fantasies out with you is great; within a safe relationship where either can say “stop” at any time and know he or she will not be ignored or rejected for doing so. Playing out a fantasy with someone who is not trustworthy can be deadly.
Our teens are inundated with sex and stereotypes. Chances are your teen has already read the 50 Shades series. That’s why it is so important that you talk with your kids about healthy relationships and sex. You can use the 50 Shades books or the movie to point out the unhealthy and dangerous parts of the relationship. It may not be an easy conversation to have, but it’s important for your teen's safety.

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