In general, I’m a live and let live kind of girl. Every family travels their own path with unique needs and circumstances. If you want to buy an iPad for your three-year-old and an iPhone for your seven-year-old, I trust you know what’s best for your own family. Private school, public school, home school, pull your kids out for a year to surf– whatever. I don’t care if you eat organic or recycle, what kind of video games your kids play or books they read. You raise your kids; I’ll raise mine.
But allowing your children to watch or read “Fifty Shades of Grey,” can cause significant damage to your child and their future relationships. Pornography isn’t good for anyone. But if you think it’s no big deal for your teenager to consume extreme pornographic material, you’re wrong.
You’ve likely read studies explaining why teenagers lack adult decision making skills. Their brains literally haven’t developed those capacities. Teenagers are much more likely to form addictions and confusion about appropriate behavior. Further studies indicate consuming pornography as a teenager changes the brain. When teens are exposed to pornography filled with domination, violence and abuse, they struggle to form their own healthy relationships.
Some of you are saying, “What? No parent condones ‘Fifty Shades’ for kids.” But teenagers everywhere are reading it. For the past three years, my sons’ high school English teachers have regularly reminded their class “Fifty Shades” does not count as literature, may not be used for book reports and erotica is not allowed in the classroom. Hallelujah for wise teachers.
You’re an adult. In theory, you’ve got your sexual behavior all sorted out (really? does anyone? I think pornography can hurt any relationship). But do you really want your teenager learning about sexual domination and submission, whips and chains? Sure, this sort of thing has been around for a long time, but in the past it’s been related to porn magazines, seedy shops and x-rated theaters. “Fifty Shades” pushes sexual abuse to the forefront of our culture and in doing so insinuates acceptance and normalcy of deviant behavior.
The day after Christmas, we bought tickets for the movie “Unbroken.” After reading the book multiple times, my husband, myself and three of my teenage sons looked forward to the adaptation on screen. As we settled in for the previews (always something I enjoy), I was frustrated to see an ad for “Fifty Shades of Grey.” An ad for a film just barely eluding an NC-17 rating seemed inappropriate as a preview to life-affirming, value-driven “Unbroken.” But as I watched the preview, my annoyance turned to fury: gorgeous faces, flashy cars, airplanes, fine clothing and wine– they are marketing “Fifty Shades” as a high-end romance, not a story of domination and abuse.
Because let’s make this clear–just in case you’re one of those parents who thought they were handing their child a cute romance– this is pornography. A book so abusive, so disgusting, that most of my friends who read it said it made them physically ill. Sure, your kid might read this or other offensive books without your permission or after they leave the house, but they should at least know you don’t approve of the messages and themes.
Do we want our daughters to believe submission to any perversion should not only be tolerated but celebrated?
Even more dangerous, do we want our sons to believe women are objects to be used, abused and manipulated to their every whim?
I speak not as a Christian or a feminist, but as a decent human being when I teach my five sons to reverence and respect all women. We don’t make jokes or lewd remarks about girls’ bodies; we don’t belittle or objectify women.
In this age, where almost every day, someone begs my support for anti-sex trade organizations, I can’t understand how “Fifty Shades” rocketed to the top of best seller lists. It brings back those antiquated and wrong ideas that women love to be dominated, that the girl who was raped ‘asked for it.’ Don’t you think the sex trade loves books and movies endorsing abuse and female subservience? Don’t you think those attitudes hurt every one of us?
I won’t be outside movies theaters protesting on Valentine’s weekend; I’ll be too busy cutting out paper hearts and baking cookies to deliver on my neighbors’ doorsteps. If you tell me you went to the movie I won’t say a thing; but please don’t take your teenager.
Michelle blogs at scenesfromthewild.net/
Editor’s Note: At Power of Moms, we believe that a stand must be taken on matters of decency and morality, and we believe that pornography in any form is absolutely not appropriate. While our main goal is to provide a place where deliberate mothers can find common ground. we feel that the energy of this opinion piece will invite families everywhere to participate in this very important conversation. Thank you for your support.