“50 Dollars Not 50 Shades” Domestic Abuse Prevention Campaign Boycotts Movie


When you mention the book ’50 Shades of Grey’ you generally get mixed reactions. Don’t just go by the media hype, because they would like you to think this movie and book series by British author E.L.James is the most popular piece of sexy literature since Mills and Boon.

The focus of domination and essentially consensual sexual slavery (c’mon, Anastasia Steele signs a freakin’ contract to allow Christian Grey to do whatever he wants with her sexually) has been the topic of much conversation about whether this story is dis-empowering women in relationships in a big way, or if it is simply harmless “mommy porn”.

Our stance? We believe it presents a harmful and distorted view of women in relationships and emphasizes the sexual power of men over women. Sure, it is a piece of fiction, but there is something about this story that we can’t in good conscience promote this when we are all about empowering women to be equal with men.

We are certainly not alone in our thinking, because a group of activists are boycotting the movie in a big way, and asking the public to join them for a very important cause.


The group, spearheaded by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation have started a campaign called “50 dollars not 50 shades” and are urging movie-goers to donate money toward shelters for battered women, rather then on the film itself, reports the Washington Post.

“Real women don’t end up like Anastasia; they often end up in a women’s shelter, on the run for years or dead,” says the campaign.

“The money you would have spent on movie tickets and a baby-sitter or movie tickets, popcorn and drinks will go towards serving victims of abusive relationships like the one glamorized in the 50 Shades series. Hollywood doesn’t need your money; abused women do.”

The movie, where lead character Anastasia Steele falls in love with a sexually sadistic rich man, Christian Grey, features the use of whips, cords, chains, handcuffs, bondage and other means of sexual exploitation toward a virginal college student. Reports about the film say it has been toned down considerably compared to the explicit content in the book series.

Not sure if that makes it any better…


And pundits are predicting this movie will be a HUGE hit as online ticket seller Fandango claims it will be the biggest R-rating movie ever. Oy vey…

“With the popularity of this series, mainstream opinion-makers (like Oprah, Dr. Phil, the Today Show and many more) are telling the public that humiliation, degradation, and torture in sex is normal and to just give it a try. We must oppose the continued promotion of sexualized violence in our society. We will go after all public leaders that propagate the lies that torture and violence are normal and healthy sexual templates,” says the campaign looking to capitalize on the popularity of this book to promote the violence which can occur in relationships.

“The porn industry has poised men and women to receive the message that sexual violence is enjoyable. Fifty Shades models this porn message and Hollywood cashes the check,” said said Dawn Hawkins, executive director of National Center on Sexual Exploitation, in a blog post.

The NCSE, previously known as Morality in the Media, has been around since 1962 as an activist organization fighting against the affects of porn in everyday culture. In essence they are saying this movie is a “cleaned-up” version and want to show people what really goes on away from the fantasies perpetuated by the media and Hollywood.


There are also plenty of discussions online as to whether this move has a damaging effect on feminism and empowered women today. Beyonce, being an outspoken feminist, allowing a version of her song ‘Crazy in Love’ for this type of film has been called into question. Not just Beyonce, but Sia, Annie Lennox and Ellie Goulding (whose songs also feature on the soundtrack) are all musicians who have spoken out in the past about being empowered, strong and equal women in society.

“‘Fifty Shades’ makes violence sexy but doesn’t capture the grave dangers and consequences that can occur in real-life controlling, abusive relationships,” said the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and its allies, London Abused Women’s Center and Stop Porn Culture.

The coalition of activist organizations spearheading this campaign welcome it as an opportunity to speak more openly about gender roles in relationships, and how they are portrayed in the media.


But it is also important to highlight the prominence of sexual exploitation and domestic abuse which should never be glamorized, rather understood and fought. The overwhelming response the campaign has received so far on social media using the hashtag #50dollarsnot50shades, as well as people signing the online petition means their message is being heard.

“People are really upset about this movie and its potential for glamorizing stalking and abusive behavior, so they’re happy to have the chance to do something positive to help offset the damage,” spokeswomen (who preferred to remain anonymous) from the organizations mentioned above told the Washington Post.

We encourage you to make a more informed decision about a movie like this. Sure you could just brush it off as you paying money to see a piece of entertainment that isn’t harming your life, or you could choose to look deeper into the issues it is “glamorizing” and think about the women who are victims of this type of behavior everyday, all around the world, who don’t get to go home to their normal lives like Anastasia Steele. You can use the images in this blog post to share on social media using the hashtag, and start a conversation with your network about this film.

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