Fifty Shades & Personal Fulfillment for Women

A leading Christian publisher recently conducted a survey asking respondents to name the most influential book they had read in the past year, and Focus on the Family reported on the results: “A startling number of women – Christian women – said ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was their favorite book of the year.”  That fact is extremely noteworthy because the book is a form of written pornography that fosters notions of sexual deviancy as normal, from sadomasochism to adultery to domestic violence.  This cultural phenomenon has become a rage among American women, sadly so, as women are the willing victims of one perverse man’s sexual playroom.  Nonetheless, many will race to see the feature film to be released on Valentine’s Day weekend, where reports detail that sex scenes comprise one-fifth of the film – essentially pornography. Why would women want to read about and watch a man physically and emotionally hurting a woman who feels she needs his love?


Why and how has this pornography ensnared so many women, including Christian women?  It begins innocently enough out of curiosity, but as Focus states, “underneath the use of pornography and carrying out the harmful sex practices promoted by ‘Fifty Shades,’ are valid human emotions and needs longing to be met. The challenge for men and women alike is to discover a healthy and holy fulfillment for those God-given desires.”  The enticement of the erotic is the curiosity and allure of sexual deviation.  It leads not to fulfillment, but rather always to destruction, for the individual and the individual’s family. 

Drs. Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh have written a book together called “Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart,” an excellent starting point for any woman struggling with pornography, struggling to put down the Fifty Shades series, for any man or woman caught in an affair that he or she doesn’t know how to get out of, or anyone entrapped in some other escape that is being unwittingly used to hide from pain.  These things, just like pornography, entrap and ensnare and ultimately destroy.  Helping those who feel trapped break away from the false intimacies that are leading them down a dangerous path is an important objective, and a particularly important one for the Christian community.

Women deserve more than what Fifty Shades has to offer. Indeed, the great paradox of the current women’s rights movement is that it has left women with a new emptiness.  To learn more about this phenomenon read “Christianity, Feminism, and the Paradox of Female Happiness,” available for free download at   http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2001387.  In fact, a 2009 report, for example, by two economists entitled 'The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness' documented some surprising facts. Since 1970 women’s self-reported happiness has fallen, relative to that of men, according to the study. This seems paradoxical, given the tremendous strides made by the women’s movement. In November 2009, the cover story for Time Magazine described “The State of the American Woman: A new poll shows why they are more powerful – but less happy.” Furthermore, a piece in the New York Times also discussed this unhappiness phenomenon in that “women are getting gloomier and men are getting happier,” and asked the salient question “Did the feminist revolution end up benefiting men more than women?” One might ask that legitimate question in light of the popularity of the Fifty Shades book-turned-movie.

Has feminism resulted in unhappiness among women? And what may account for this seeming contradiction? In the article at
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2001387 a theologian, a business educator, and a lawyer discuss the influences that both feminism and Christianity have had on gender equality, and women’s overall general happiness.  What we found were what we considered the failures of both religion and feminism, on behalf of women and men alike. Our work addressed the genuine need for transformation toward gender equality, both in culture and religion, while offering a prescription for the ultimate solution for women’s (un)happiness – which by the way did not include any of the Fifty Shades of Grey – but instead offers a challenging consideration this Valentine’s Day.


  1. A very timely post! The fact that this movie is predicted to be a blockbuster and that flocks of young women 17 and older cannot wait for this to come out is disturbing on many levels. Both Christians and the Church alike need to face this issue head on with truth and respect. There is no room for Christians to use the excuse that viewing this is ok because, it is just “Hollywood” and “it isn’t real.” After working with many women and children who have been sexually exploited, this book series and movie breaks my heart. Women and children live through this kind of abuse and yet millions of dollars will be spent on watching this very crime on a big screen. How much better could these dollars be spent on rescuing those who are being exploited, rather than applauding the perversion of it? Scientific studies have shown that pornography changes the chemical balance in the brain and is very addictive. It is the same for men or women. Colossians 2:20-23 provides what our role as a follow of Christ is in response to this issue and movie.
    "If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21“Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22(which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”

  2. A RELEVANT thought: The message is clear: by turning these same behaviors around to market them as “romance,” this film effectively silences the experience of millions of victims of abuse. Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/film/fifty-shades-grey-and-abuse#rBcYijZV1pyFgFqg.99