50 Shades of Grey was originally fanfiction based on the Twilight series, which was then published as a novel (along with 2 subsequent books). It sold over 100 million copies around the world and topped best-seller lists everywhere. It’s about to be adapted into a film, set to come out early next year.
It follows a college student named Ana Steele, who enters a relationship with a man named Christian Grey and is then introduced to a bastardised and abusive parody of BDSM culture.
While the book is paraded as erotica, the relationship between Ana and Christian is far from healthy. The core mantra of the BDSM community is “safe, sane and consensual”, and 50 Shades is anything but. None of the rules of BDSM practices (which are put in place to protect those involved) are actually upheld. Christian is controlling, manipulative, abusive, takes complete advantage of Ana, ignores safe-words, ignores consent, keeps her uneducated about the sexual practices they’re taking part in, and a multitude of other terrible things. Their relationship is completely sickening and unhealthy.
Basically, “the book is a glaring glamorisation of violence against women,” as Amy Bonomi so perfectly put it.
It’s terrible enough that a book like this has been absorbed by people worldwide. Now, we have a film that is expected to be a huge box-office success, and will likely convince countless more young women that it’s okay not to have any autonomy in a relationship, that a man is allowed to control them entirely. It will also show many young men that women are theirs to play with and dominate, thus contributing to antiquated patriarchal values and rape culture.
So this photo, much to my astonishment, has been circulating on various social media networks to incite an emotional response out of people to the plight of Palestinians. There are a couple issues with this.
America is a settler colonial state. And no, this is not something of the past. Many people, including activists unfortunately, often portray the suffering of Indigenous communities as something that is not rooted in the present. Its not a reality that doesn’t have adverse affects on Indigenous communities currently. Trafficking on reservations is a reality. Mass impoverishment and skyrocketing prices and in turn, lacking access to food in Indigenous communities is a reality. Violence and continued colonization is a grounded and apparently a neglected social justice issue.
This parallel, whether or not it intends to, is crudely neglectful of that. To assume the vast majority of settlers in the US would exude empathy for Palestinians and their stolen land and the ghettoization, if not demolishment of their homes is to assume that they would also then be actively committed to addressing and deconstructing the oppression faced by NDN communities, which is patently false.
Since America in itself is an illegitimate state, the upheaval of the US should not be threatening to anyone who considers themselves a decolonial activist. This photo pretty much says “imagine Americans, if this happened to your country”, but this isn’t our country. None of this is our land to begin with, aside from Indigenous and Black American communities, who have felt the backlash and served as the main and direct recipients of US violence for hundreds of years. No one living in America who does not descend from the genocided and the trafficked should feel the entitlement to and comfort of this land and living here that this infograph would require one to.
How can we expect those that have been here and were the first to experience US bred brutality to feel empathy with us if we are not willing to extend genuine solidarity and exhibit constant conscientiousness of their struggle? I believe in Muslim communities and that we’re able to have a more nuanced and inclusive approach than this. We can’t denounce settler neglect elsewhere while perpetuating it ourselves, which is precisely what this photo did. That’s not activism, that’s exploitation.
Je pense toujours à toi
comme à une erreur nécessaire
when you have a conversation with someone fluent in your foreign language and you make a lot of mistakes and it’s like
take me back
i can do better than this, i swear
If this isn’t an entrance to a fairy world then I don’t know what is…
Fairy Glen, Isle of Skye, Scotland, April 2014