Fifty Shades of Grey - Fifty Shades of Abuse

Letter to the Editor - Palm Beach Post - February 13, 2015

Dear Sir:

The ravages of domestic abuse never fade. Forty years after my escape from a marriage that nearly took my life, the emotional scars are still visible. I’m good at playing the part of confident woman. Most days, the act doesn’t take much effort. Time has honed my performance skills. As if my exposure to domestic abuse wasn’t bad enough, seven years ago my daughter was sexually assaulted. Her assailant is serving three life sentences plus 35 years. I write of these things not to elicit sympathy but to give weight to what is to follow.

In today’s Post – Friday, February 13 – a review of the film Fifty Shades of Grey written by Rafer Guzman (Newsday) was published. Why you would choose a review written by someone so obviously misogynistic is mindboggling, especially when female film critics have made their opinions widely known.

As an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence, I received many emails from friends after this film was released. Many included links to reviews. One, in particular, stood out. It was written by Rosie Waterland of mamamia.com.au and if ever a commentary proved that men and women see the world differently, Ms. Waterland’s surpasses all others. 

To quote from her review, “I walked into the premiere screening of Fifty Shades of Grey… planning to walk out with a bunch of ridiculous and funny material that would lead to a hilarious recap. Instead, I walked out of the cinema on the verge of tears. Fifty Shades of Grey is about domestic violence dressed up as sexy fantasy.  It’s also about an incredibly disturbing and manipulative emotionally abusive relationship. (The film) makes domestic abuse seem okay.”

Now compare Waterland’s words to those written by Guzman: “"Neither the book nor the film has the guts or, perhaps, the brains to acknowledge Anastasia's basest desire -- money. Whenever she's unsure about taking another beating, Grey buys her a car or shows her his enormous helicopter. It works, too. Now that's the true meaning of domination."

I don’t know if helicopter is a euphemism for something even more disturbing in Guzman’s psyche, but it’s clear that his review says a lot more about him than it does about Fifty Shades of Grey. You owe your female readership an apology even if just in the form of a second review written by someone who recognizes and abhors abuse rather than someone who believes women are willing to submit to abuse in exchange for trinkets and baubles.

Donna M. Carbone


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