It’s not only the Christian Right that perpetuates abuse in our culture. Coming at it from an entirely different angle, Hollywood, which is undeniably liberal, often romanticizes abuse. And women’s reaction to it reveals a deep-seeded belief that abuse, or male domination, is somehow romantic.
When I was a girl I got into soap operas around the time of Luke and Laura (General Hospital). They were, without a doubt, the single most popular OTP ever in the history of soapdom. It wasn’t until I was an adult when it dawned on me that the storyline was abusive. Originally, Luke had stalked, then raped, Laura. These actions somehow made Laura fall in love with him, and, in turn, they became Daytime’s hottest couple. When I read about the storyline when I was older one thing stood out to me, and yet didn’t surprise me. GH writers and producers said that they had such positive feedback on the relationship from their female viewers that they ran with it.
You might argue that I’m talking about soap operas, or that it happened int he 70s and things have improved since then. But it really hasn’t. Violence as a sexual stimulant is pretty rampant in my favorite movie genre, Action/Adventure. And, apparently, it’s just as popular in the Romance genre, at least if the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey is considered.
I first learned about 50 Shades of Grey from Christian sources. A book series replete with sexual deviancy and violence didn’t really sound my style, (I prefer actual romance) so I didn’t bother to read it. It wasn’t until several of my writer friends started posting against it on tumblr that I realized it was worse than many of the Christians made it out to be. Most of the folks on the Right were upset over the pornographic nature of the series. My writer friends, several of whom practice BDSM, pointed out that the problem is that it’s not just pornographic, it’s abuse. (As a side note, there may have been Christians who pointed this out as well, I just never came across their comments or articles.)
The man apparently stalks the woman, then, by domination and manipulation, coerces her into the BDSM lifestyle. This is not porn for women, this is typical porn industry male sexual fantasy, and this is still often the abuse Hollywood elevates. The wild popularity of the series points out that not a lot has changed in the female mindset toward abuse since the 70s. It’s truly Luke and Laura all over again.
This leads me to the conclusion that from the earliest age we are teaching our girls that, sure they can be anything they want to be, but when it comes to relationships, it’s really romantic to have a man break you and dominate you; that rape is an acceptable form of affection; that a man’s “needs” should be acquiesced to regardless of the woman’s.
This is a universal problem which seems to transcend religion, race, culture, ethnicity, social status, etc. It is a problem that will continue to be perpetuated the longer we continue in silence.