50 Shades of Grey and Patriarchy: What Else Did We Expect? From CBE
I came across this the other day via Twitter.
I started a very long post about Christian reactions to the Fifty Shades of Grey (50 SOG) movie – I don’t know if I will get around to finishing it and post it – but one point in my editorial I brought out (or wanted to in a Part 2) is I cannot comprehend why so many conservative Christians are upset by 50SOG.
The 50 Shades of Grey movie and book series echo and support what conservative, Christian gender complementarians teach about women, men, dating, marriage, and sex. The following essay (from CBE, linked to below) explains those parallels a bit more.
A lot of assumptions about sex, dating, women, and marriage that undergird 50 Shades of Grey are also taught as being “biblical” by gender complementarian Christians, so it’s beyond me why so many of them are critical of 50SOG.
Christian gender complementarians teach things such as, women are more easily deceived than men, all women need a “male covering,” a woman is nothing without a man (unmarried and childless women do not matter in complementarian teachings), a man should “call all the shots” in a relationship, the woman should always defer to the man, etc.
Some conservative Christians (including preachers) even teach Christian women that they “owe” their husbands sex, no matter what, and even including performing debased sex acts they may not want to perform if the husband wants those sex acts.
So please, explain to me how Christian teaching on sex, women, control, men, and dating is really that much different from what one finds in 50SOG? As far as I can tell, most Christian teaching about women, sex, dating, etc, is almost identical to aspects of 50SOG.
- FEBRUARY 24, 2015 BY
- It is fascinating to read the numerous articles circulating about the just-released film, 50 Shades of Grey, which is based on a wildly popular book trilogy.I am not sure there has ever been an event in which feminists, the BDSM community, and conservative Christian organizations like Focus on the Family have united their voices in mutual disgust.
The concerns of most are that:
- The film is “soft porn” and should not be marketed for mainstream consumption
- The story glamorizes what psychologists have asserted to be “consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s official definition of intimate partner violence — and… perpetuates dangerous abuse patterns.”
There are many articles written by Christians trying to pick apart why it is that so many women, both in and out of the church, are flocking to see this film, after buying 70 million copies of the book (sales divided equally among professing Christians and the American adult population ).
- Secular and religious experts are discussing the repercussions of rape culture, feminism, the innate need for love, and the search for the divine as explanations for the popularity of the books and movie.As I look across American culture in general, and American Christian culture in particular, I am left wondering, “What else did we expect?” 50 Shades of Grey is simply a mirror to the experiences of women. Regardless of what side of the church walls they grew up on, women both in secular society and in Christian subculture are consuming the books and film because the underlying ideology of the story is what so many are familiar with, only it has been exaggerated and sexualized in form.
- Both in and out of the church, women are regularly fed the message that we are not complete without a man by our side. From the time we start ingesting Disney films, we know that life revolves around finding our prince.
- Tabloids and self-help books are filled with titles about how to get a man and how to manipulate him into staying.
- The vast majority of secular material on sexuality written for women is about how to make a man want you and how to please him in bed.
- Throw in the statistics about how frequently women experience assault (1 out of 5 American women have been sexually assaulted), the discrepancy in income earning (78 cents to the dollar), and the lack of women in leadership (10-20% in most fields) and you end up with a pretty clear case of misbalanced power between men and women. 
- In conservative Christianity, the experience is hardly any better.Women living under complementarian Christianity are told regularly that God’s intention for humanity is that men should hold exclusive power in the home and in church. They are the decision makers and the ones responsible for the well-being of the women and children under them.
- A Christian woman in the complementarian world is left hoping for a man like Jesus because that is exactly what it takes to guarantee gender hierarchy NOT be abusive.
- Please do not understand me to be saying that all complementarians are abusive.
- … The Christian complementarian viewpoint is, at its essence, an attempt to redeem the fallen-ness of male authority/female submission.
- Complementarians would say, rightly, that 50 Shades of Grey is a satanic twisting of how God intends men and women to relate to one another. The difference is that they would continue to define God’s intended relationship between men and women in terms of authority and submission. As one complementarian writer explained, “Domination is, in essence, Satan’s counterfeit of healthy submission.” 
- The problem is that the basic ideology itself is exactly the same. In the very worst of scenarios, a culture of male-dominated authority leads to horrors like what is depicted in 50 Shades of Grey (and worse). The most perfect possibility that complementarianism can offer is a safe, life-giving relationship resting in the capable and loving authority of a man who is at all times just like Jesus.
- Except even the most godly man simply is not Jesus, and does not have the unwavering selfless love or the omniscience required to lead perfectly.
- ((read the rest here))