E.L. James’ pornographic and sadomasochistic “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy continues to break sales records wherever the “mommy porn” fictional novels are available. The new film, scheduled to be released Valentine’s Day weekend, is also expected to be a cash cow at the box office.
Women make up the majority of this particular (and very sad) market. Unfortunately, they also can’t seem to get enough reminders of the abusive relationship between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, as in addition to the books, they are snatching up all kinds of “Fifty Shades” accessories, which feature candles, bed sheets, earrings, chokers and bracelets in the form of handcuffs. How charming. Oh, and let’s not forget the lovely “I Love Mr. Grey” T-shirts, also complete with the images of handcuffs right next to the cute little red hearts.
You can’t make this stuff up, as women who claim “freedom” as their mantra are embracing and promoting the complete opposite. Go figure.
One of the most prominent examples of blatant hypocrisy surrounding the “Fifty Shades” phenomenon is the case of Canadian radio personality Jian Ghomeshi. In early January, Ghomeshi was charged with three more counts of sexual assault in a case that’s being labeled a major sex scandal — one that led to the firing of the CBC radio host as well as the suspensions of other CBC employees. The public broadcasting company said it had seen graphic evidence that he had “injured a woman in what the host claimed were consensual sex acts involving bondage, sadism and masochism.”
Ghomeshi defends his sexual tastes as a “mild form” of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Notice he said a “mild form” of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” An internal investigation is being conducted at the network to see if executives may have ignored his behavior because of his popularity. This is another huge hypocrisy, given that major networks all over the broadcasting world have no issues at all splashing the “Fifty Shades” promotions all over their airwaves. Those networks include CBS, which featured the film trailer during the Golden Globes awards show on Jan. 12.
And as sad as it is, Ghomeshi has a point. How, on the one hand, can his case be so scandalous while millions are giving the same activity a huge thumbs-up by purchasing books and bling that embrace, glamorize and celebrate abusive and sinful behavior?
The Catholic Church couldn’t be clearer when it comes to why pornography of any type is a grave offense. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
“Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials” (No. 2354).
In addition to Catholic teaching, many experts agree that pornography poses great danger to men as well as women — and the relationships between them. It’s unhealthy in myriad ways: physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is also highly hypocritical to cry foul when cases of abuse involving actions similar to those exhibited in “Fifty Shades” make headlines. We can’t have it both ways.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.