Fight the Power of 50 Shades: Here’s What YOU Can Do!

I am doing a lot of interviews over the next few days about the appeal of the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon and what our Christian response should be.  I find that many people are responding to the shutterstock_146909255wide appeal of the film by being outraged, clucking about how disgusting and shameful it is. I want to say upfront that I agree that the content of 50 Shades is, indeed, disgusting and shameful, but I also want to say that I think that being shocked and outraged is not only insufficient it is,  in fact, doing exactly what Satan wants us to do.  He wants us to settle for being scolds when what God needs us to be is evangelists for the truth about the Catholic vision of love.  We have been given a huge opportunity that Satan does not want us to take advantage of!

50 Shades:  A Sexual Da Vinci Code

Many readers may recall the sensation around The Da Vinci Code a few years back.   So many people strangely believed Dan Brown’s wildly fantastical novel to be a legitimate historical work denying the divinity of Christ and suggesting some kind of cover up by the Church of…Heaven knows what.   Many Christians reacted with similar outrage and shock to that film as they are showing for 50 Shades, but other Christians mounted a more effective response.  A small cottage industry of books came out from Christian publishers that tapped into the public’s fascination with Dan Brown’s story while simultaneously rebutting the book’s claims point by point–revealing powerful arguments for the truth of the claims of traditional Christianity. Because of this, Christians who kept a cooler head in the face of the DaVinci Code’s  slanders against the Church were able to turn it into a powerful opportunity for getting the truth into people’s hands. The world was surprised by the forceful and effective response that was mounted by Christians and many people’s hearts were genuinely changed.  At the very least,  good seeds were sown.

 The Hunger

Similarly, I think Christians, and Catholics in particular, are being given a real opportunity.  The popularity of 50 Shades isn’t an anomaly.  It speaks to a deep need among women to be permitted to express their repressed femininity (see my previous blog that develops this point).  As I pointed out in my previous post, St John Paul the Great’s  Theology of the Body reminds us that receptivity is an essential characteristic of femininity.  A healthy woman can be strong, competent, capable, and powerful, but still want a man to to love her, take care of her, and, yes, to lead.  The secular feminist culture seeks to prohibit women from expressing this desire for natural, healthy submission, in which the woman wants a man to cherish and care for her, in which a woman allows herself to be vulnerable–in the healthiest sense of that word–to a man.  But that receptive impulse is so much a part of the feminine character that it cannot be denied.  Any attempt to repress it will result in that desire for receptivity being expressed in distorted ways.  As I’ve pointed out previously, dominance is Satan’s counterfeit of  healthy submission.  Where a dynamic of healthy mutual submission is denied, dominance will emerge.  Poorly formed men will seek to seek to dominate women and poorly formed women will willingly submit to being dominated–just like the female protagonist of 50 Shades.

The point is, what 50 Shades powerfully reveals is that women want more.  They want to be able to stop having to be powerful all the time. To be in charge all the time.  To have to take care of everyone and everything all by themselves all the time.  They want to be able to lay down their defenses, to stop having to pretend that they can be everything to everyone, and to just be vulnerable for a change. But they don’t know there is a healthy way to do that.  They don’t know where to look for it. And the best they can do is fantasize about someone who will come into their lives and force them to give up the control they never really wanted in the first place.

That’s where we come in.  We have a better way

The Answer

We must do more than express shock and outrage.  There is too much work to do.  We can’t afford the luxury of being scandalized.  We must minister to the sickness and heal the wound that drives this phenomenon.  We must show the world that the Christian vision of mutual submission, in which strong powerful, men of God love, cherish, and care for women as Christ loves, cares and cherishes the Church, and strong, powerful women of God know how to lay down their defenses willingly and be loved, cherished and cared for by a man is a real and positive option.   In order to do that, we need to be examples to the world of this in our own relationships and we need to put resources in the hands of those who need them so that the world can discover the truth of the Catholic vision of love.

I would like to suggest something to you. I would ask you to consider purchasing a copy of Holy Sex! for everyone you know who has spoken favorably about 50 Shades, has read the book, or mentions they are going to see the movie.  Don’t cluck at them.  Don’t shame them.  Look at them in the eye, smile, and say, “Hmmm.  You know what?  I think I have something that you’d really be interested in.”  and hand them a copy of the book.  Change the conversation.  Give them the opportunity to see the truth.  Don’t run from the fight.  ENGAGE the culture and EVANGELIZE.  We can use this as an opportunity to change hearts and open minds.    Give people the truth and then stand back and be amazed at what the Holy Spirit can do when we open the door even a crack.

Be not afraid!  Be a force for good.  Light a candle in the darkness, and dispel every shade of grey with the light of God’s grace and love.

Together, we can make a difference.  We can show the world that the free, total, faithful, and fruitful love they long for but are afraid to believe truly exists is more than a fantasy.   Let’s show the world that there is a better way.

Tainted Love: Why is 50 Shades of Grey So Popular?

Note:  The following article deals frankly with sexual topics.  

Image Shutterstock. used with permission

Image Shutterstock. used with permission

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that 50 Shades of Grey, a popular soft-core pornographic movie about a timid young woman who is sexually dominated by a billionaire, is being released this coming Valentine’s Day.  Based on a popular series of erotic novels, the film is being released both to wide acclaim and wider controversy, especially among those who are repulsed by this glorification of domestic partner violence.

Fatal Attractions

Many people are mystified by the movie’s appeal, but research shows a large percentage of women are very attracted to the kinds of sexual activities portrayed in 50 Shades. According to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, nearly 65% of women reported fantasies about sexual submission. Specifically, more than 52% percent of women said  they fantasize about being restrained during sex, 36%of women desire to be spanked, and 28.9% fantasize about being forced to have sex.  Fantasies about being sexually dominated are quite common among women.

Of course, all of this begs the question, Why?  Why are so many women attracted to these behaviors and to this film that depicts such degrading behavior toward women.  Why would women willingly submit themselves to watching or participating in media that, for all intents and purposes, is victimizing to them?

Repressed Femininity

There isn’t one reason, of course.  For some, prior abuse or victimization will be a factor.  But there is a major theme that I have observed that contributes to the tendency for many–even, apparently, a majority–of women to desire and/or submit themselves to this kind of treatment.  Namely,  our prevailing culture’s secular-feminist ethic makes it taboo for women to want to be vulnerable in any healthy ways.  Women are told they must expect to take care of themselves. They must be strong, self-sufficient and powerful. Of course there is nothing wrong–and everything right–with being a capable, competent woman. But many women are taught that they must take this a step further.  They can never allow themselves to be vulnerable. They must be competent at all things, and at all costs.  They don’t let themselves need anyone, least of all a man.  Even in a healthy relationship, there are many women will will not allow themselves to let their guard down, give up control, or open their hearts.

The problem is that this isn’t natural.  The Theology of the Body asserts that an inherent character of femininity is receptivity.  That is, the ability to be open, generous, receptive to others. Not dependent, or needy, or a victim, but intimately relational  in character.  The secular feminist culture pressures women to deny their basic receptivity, but nature will not be denied.  The receptive, feminine impulse continues to assert itself, and if it cannot find legitimate expression in healthy relationships, it will assert itself in more insidious ways.

The Need that Will Not Be Denied

In essence, many women who have been trained to reject their natural, healthy vulnerability, can only allow their feminine impulse to be expressed by permitting themselves to be dominated. Unable to allow their feminine nature to emerge in any other way, many women either fantasize or actually place themselves positions where they are no longer given a choice in the matter.  Domination is, in essence, Satan’s counterfeit of the healthy submission (as opposed to subjugation/dominance) that naturally expresses itself in subtle and psychologically affirming ways in a healthy, nurturing relationship.

Improperly formed men will seek to dominate women rather than love and serve them, and improperly formed women will seek to be dominated rather that willingly allowing themselves to be loved and served.  The popularity of 50 Shades is the bad fruit of a culture that denies the healthy interdependence of men and women and rejects the natural dynamic of mutual submission that evolves when well-formed men and women boldly express their respective masculine and feminine genius in a nurturing, mutually generous relationship with one another.

To learn more about reclaiming a healthy sense of one’s sexuality and living a passionate, loving, soulful sexual life, check out Holy Sex!  The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing Infallible Loving.

Surprising Secrets Reading “50 Shades” Reveals About You.


If you’re a fan of the 50 Shades of Grey series of erotic fiction, a new study says that you might be more of an open book than you think.

Young adult women who read “Fifty Shades of Grey” are more likely than nonreaders to exhibit signs of eating disorders and have a verbally abusive partner, finds a new study led by a Michigan State University researcher.

Further, women who read all three books in the blockbuster “Fifty Shades” erotic romance series are at increased risk of engaging in binge drinking and having multiple sex partners.

The researchers studied more than 650 women aged 18-24, a prime period for exploring greater sexual intimacy in relationships, Bonomi said. Compared to participants who didn’t read the book, those who read the first “Fifty Shades” novel were 25 percent more likely to have a partner who yelled or swore at them; 34 percent more likely to have a partner who demonstrated stalking tendencies; and more than 75 percent more likely to have used diet aids or fasted for more than 24 hours.

Those who read all three books in the series were 65 percent more likely than nonreaders to binge drink — or drink five or more drinks on a single occasion on six or more days per month — and 63 percent more likely to have five or more intercourse partners during their lifetime.  READ MORE