Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie adaptation of E. L. James’ erotica, came out this past weekend, spurring millions of dollars in revenues and lots of reviews. I’ve always been vocal about my dislike of Fifty Shades of Grey and its predecessor, The Twilight Saga, which glorifies abusive relationships and aren’t appropriate for adults, let alone the younger girls that Twilight is aimed at as it’s target audience. James, who originally wrote Fifty Shades of Grey as Twilight fan fiction, took author Stephenie Meyer’s twisted Edward and Bella relationship and turned it into an even worse kind of relationship between Christian and Ana. For me, Fifty Shades of Grey and The Twilight Saga isn’t merely just fiction. It’s personal.
I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood. I went to a middle school that was predominantly black. I’m Asian. It wasn’t easy to fit in. From a young age, I was taught that people of the same color usually tended to stick with one another: all the white kids, all the black kids, all the Hispanic kids, and yes, all us Asian kids as well. By middle school, there was more of us so that was great. I didn’t feel so bad then, but before that, it was hell trying to be nice to kids to have friends, to not be alone, and to not feel alone. I spent most of my childhood trying to please other people, which translated into an automatic mechanism that triggers in my relationships later on in my life. The thought process behind that mechanism is pretty much along the lines of, “if I can do this or that for someone, or prove myself valuable and worthy of them, then I won’t have to be alone”. As we can all see now, it’s a really messed up way of thinking, but we all still do it to a degree. We give in to peer pressure and do things we would’ve never done before. We tolerate the subtleties of abuse hidden behind promises and empty words from others that were meant to be nothing but a form of control over us.
It took me a long time to break out of that habit, the habit of letting others do whatever they wanted with me and to me just as long as they’re happy and okay. I’m still not as mean as I’d like to be, but I can now tell people to go screw themselves when I do catch the mind games and realize all the power plays for control of me. It’s all very subtle. Or it can be blatantly in your face like something I read today with a woman who is trying to appease a friend who was upset at her for apparently no reason. While she didn’t understand the friend’s anger, she still wanted the friend to be happy and she still wanted the best for that person, even when they basically told her the equivalent of, “fuck off“.
I’m not a stranger to those words. I used to cry about it. I used to be confused and not understand why someone was being so mean when all I wanted was to make them happy. It all stems back to my childhood and wanting friends which led to low self esteem and an overwhelming dependency on other people’s thoughts of me to validate my self worth. Reading what that woman wrote made me feel bad. I used to feel like that. I used to be the one who would try to make someone smile and think the world of them, even when all they wanted was candy I had or some other material thing. I wanted to say something to her, to that woman. I wanted to tell her the reason why it didn’t matter that her friend was upset, but why it did matter that she move on and not let such people control her emotions nor her life anymore.
It’s almost always about a boy.
Bella sees Edward and immediately starts obsessing about him. It’s not even that he’s into her, it’s that she created an ideal of him in her head simply based on how gorgeous he was. And in her ideal of him, he is actually a big, soft, cuddly teddy bear that wants love just as much as she does.
This is where all of us fail at relationships before there even could be any sort of relationship. We create versions of people in our minds that are suited to us, that are suited to our needs. Unfortunately, love is an incredible need that every person experiences. Love isn’t sex. And sex isn’t love. But because of love, many, many people will suffer abusive relationships all because of the ideal of someone they have clung on to inside their minds.The truth could be rather vocal like the woman and her friend. Instead of taking what was said and what happened for what it was, she held on to the hope that somehow, her love could change them and their behavior towards her. How I greatly wanted to shake her and tell her to snap out of her defeating daydream of someone else and what she hoped they were. It was much different from who they really were.
In Blood Lust, book two of the Turning Vampire Series, Marisa suffers a very controlling and physically abusive relationship at the hands of Alessander. Because he physically beats her, people reading that book can see that it’s domestic violence in its purest form: physical abuse. However, many people don’t realize that abuse isn’t only when someone is black and blue and almost dead from being beaten by their spouse/lover/friend/family member/etc. Abuse is any form of control of another. That could be as simple as convincing someone that they shouldn’t hang around a friend who has never done any harm or as complicated as manipulating someone like how Alessander manipulated Marisa.
One of my friends reading Blood Lust was greatly disgusted by Alessander and Marisa’s relationship. Although Marisa did learn how to stand up for herself and how to stop Alessander from hurting her, she went through all the steps that someone in an abusive relationship goes through. One of those main things is believing all the lies told by the other person. It’s odd how people are drawn to others who say no to them. Edward made it clear that he didn’t want Bella, and yet, she stalks him like a puppy, hoping he’d recant that whole episode where he ran off to get away from her and instead, declare his undying love for her. Christian made it clear to Ana that she was merely a play thing to him, a toy he wanted to use when he wanted and she had no influence in his life at all. He was influencing hers. However, despite all the signs of no, she still believed that deep down inside, he was a tortured soul who needed someone like her who could put up with his punishments and make him happy in the hopes that one day in some far off future, he’d confess his love for her. Alessander is a lot different from Edward and Christian. Instead of pushing Marisa away like how Edward did to Bella and Christian did to Ana, Alessander manipulated Marisa into thinking she wasn’t worth anything to anyone and that no one wanted her. Alessander was everything of the classic typical abuser in a romantic relationship that most people think of when they think of domestic abuse. They think of violence, of fights, of being put down and torn down. They think of male egos and arrogance. Alessander presented only one of the many multifaceted faces of abuse. Edward and Christian presented two more. All three were abusive. Edward creepily watched over Bella while she was asleep and kept tabs on her while she was awake. He listened in on other people’s thoughts to spy on her. Christian downright controlled Ana with his demands and the risk of “losing” whatever semi-resemblance of a relationship they had together. Alessander totally took it over board, but sadly, it’s not very far from the truth of how reality is for many people. Many people will never do what Marisa did. The concept of self preservation, self worth, self anything seems foreign to them.
It all starts in our heads.
As much as everyone wants to blame the more aggressive person in an abusive relationship, abuse actually starts with the person who allows themselves to be hurt. I’m not talking about the people who wake up one day to a black eye and don’t know how their relationship got that way. There’s that too and it’s wrong. I’m talking about us and how we have these expectational ideas of others. The woman believed her friend was simply having a bad day. Although she couldn’t understand why the friend was angry at her since she only strives to make the other person happy, it is well understood that whatever sort of relationship she has with that friend is largely one sided. I can’t really blame her for thinking the best or wanting to think the best about others, but the excuses that she makes for the friend’s behavior is something I’m familiar with. There’s a part of all of us that can see things as how they truly are. We will see bad friends as bad people. Yet, a different part of us holds on to these unrealistic ideas that our bad friend is somehow a good person and just going through a rough time. I was stuck in that circle for a while. I knew exactly what kind of friend my friend could be because I’ve watched her spend time with others, do things for others, be kind to others, share with others, and then, she spends a total of a few minutes saying hi to me and that’s it. She talks longer if she’s hungry and wants me to cook her food. Yet, knowing that she was a bad friend to me, I kept hoping that if I was nice back, she’d eventually act like a real friend. She never did and I had to finally accept that some people are great friends to others, but really bad friends to us. And even then, I still cried about it, because I knew she was a good person at heart. And that’s exactly the dilemma that this woman was having: her friend was a decently good person with a good heart and they were good friends with others, but the two of them didn’t get along well. Yet, knowing this, she still held on to that false hope that maybe that friend will change and treat her better as I thought my friend would surely see my worth and treat me better too. She didn’t.
We often are afraid to lose people for imagined potentials at what kind of relationship we could have with someone in the future.
I remember a girl from my childhood who hated me, but I wanted to be her friend so badly, that I was super nice to her all of the time. To describe our relationship, it was like Cole off of the movie, The Sixth Sense, and the bully Tommy who pretended to be friends with him in front of his mom. This girl pretended to be my friend in front of her mom. We’d get to school and she’d ditch me for all of her other friends. Her mom thought we were best friends. I thought we were best friends too. I didn’t understand that we weren’t until I was much older. That was a bad relationship. We didn’t physically fight. We didn’t hurt each other. But there was still a lot of misleading things and manipulations and abuse. In the end, we weren’t friends anymore and her mom came to my house and gave me back all the stuff I gave her daughter. The sad thing is, I had nothing to give to the woman as something her daughter gave me out of friendship. Back then, I also wasn’t brave enough to tell her mom what really happened. I still cared too much about what anyone thought of me.
Peer pressure is a huge thing for children. Being liked, making friends, feeling lonely…all of that affects everyone at some stage in their life. We can do without all the books that glorify abuse in relationships and tell us that we need someone else’s approval to be worth something. We’ve already told ourselves that enough as children. We hope for a, “I’m proud of you” from our parents and teachers. We hope for inclusion from our friends. And now we have popular books that tell us that independence is a lie and we need someone else to be complete.
The message in today’s world is that we cannot be strong without someone being weak. That’s the wrong message to send out to anyone, anywhere. I saw a meme today where some out of the closet atheist woman said, “I am happy that men wrote the Bible. That means that women didn’t.”
My reply was: “That’s sexist and quite frankly, a foolish thing to say. It took a man in order to birth that woman. It’s cool for men and women to be treated equally, but all this superiority bs simply needs to stop. She could’ve simply said she was an atheist instead of trying to belittle men to make her self worth as a woman greater. It shows that she has no self worth and that’s sad.”
The opening poster said: “Oh BooHoo! You missed the point.”
In which I replied, “So I should acknowledge other people’s stupidity for a supposed point? No thanks. If someone’s going to make a stand for what they believe in, there’s no need to bash anyone else to make you or your religion or whatever you believe in as being better. She will die like the rest of us. Every human being will have the same ending: death, and there’s no escape from that.”
So the OP responds with, “Freedom from religion certainly angers some folks, eh?”
And the last thing I replied on that topic said, “It’s not about religion. It’s about people. Did I care that she was speaking against the Bible and that she’s atheist? Nope. Don’t twist my words into something you want it to be to better suit your own religious agendas. It’s not your freedom from religion that angers me. It’s my freedom of religion that angers you. That’s sad.”
It’s really tiring when a lot of my pagan/atheist/non-christian friends talk about Christianity more than I do, and yet, they want to claim that Christians are the ones shoving our religion in their faces. I can’t tell whether they’re trying to convince everyone not to be a Christian by constantly talking about it, or that they’re trying to convince their selves of how they shouldn’t be a Christian by talking about Christianity all the time. Either way, let it go. It’s obsessive behavior and abusive to yourself. It’s not your freedom from religion that angers me. It’s my freedom of religion that angers you. And that is sad.
It’s late. I’m calling it a night. Stop the abuse and the acceptance of abuse in relationships.