REVIEW: “Fifty Shades Darker” is Barely Disguised Misogyny

Photo courtesy Universal Pictures.

By Eesha Pendharkar

BU News Service

If you want to watch barely disguised misogyny being justified as true love, you’ll love “Fifty Shades Darker.” The plot takes the worst out of an already pretty terrible book series and the result is the “protagonist” saying things like “I’m a sadist, I like to hurt women,” without explanation. The female lead almost stands up to this terrible person but always caves in the name of love. It’s a really bad example of a relationship but the series has scores of admirers because of…the BDSM?

This kink is portrayed as the problem between the couple and the reason they broke up for a few days before Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) decided he could quit his old ways and dominate Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) in all other aspects of life instead.

Grey’s behavior, which is frankly demeaning, isn’t what is so irksome about the entire movie, though. It’s that women all around the world who love this series are made to believe that the messed up dynamic between a young college graduate and her older, rich boyfriend – who controls what she eats, whom she meets and how she dresses – is romance. The first thing he does when they get back together is buy her a bunch of new gadgets and she just goes along with it. Then he deposits $24,000 into her account, forbids her from going on a business trip and asks her to move in with him, but the only detail that’s remembered is that he asked her to move in with him.

The entire movie is full of Grey’s past coming back to haunt him and confront Ana, and of course she’s worried that she won’t be enough for him since she can’t be his submissive. God forbid that a millionaire have enough resources to go visit a therapist to resolve his childhood issues.

The idea behind the “Fifty Shades” series may have been to explore sexuality through an everyday woman’s eyes, but eventually it panders to the fact that women eventually just want a knight in shining armor to solve their problems and buy them expensive stuff. Every time Christian Grey buys Ana something outrageous, her denials get meeker. She moves into his house, overlooks his glaring mental problems and makes him her entire world because she’s seeking some perfect version of love she’s read about growing up. And because he’s handsome, rich and powerful, she skims over the glaring cons and decides that he’s what she wants.

The character of Ana Steele would’ve been tolerable with any other man who respects her when she stands up for herself, but our sado-masochist hero just wins over her every time just because he’s a man.

“Fifty Shades Darker” romanticizes sociopaths and tells women it’s okay to sit back and let a man take over just because he’s man. The movie tries to portray that patriarchy is a good thing because women like to be controlled and men always know better. It’s exactly the kind of movie that needs to never be made again.

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