I can’t help but wonder if the theme song for the soon-to-be released “Fifty Shades of Grey” film will be “have you ever really degraded a woman?”
As a mother to three young men, I am deeply troubled by the upcoming release of “Fifty Shades.” Let me start by saying I have not read the book but I have read enough commentary to know what the book is ultimately about — and the bottom line for me is — the message this movie sends to young men is frightening at best.
Christian Grey, the “hero” in the movie, displays many of the characteristics often attributed to men who physically and verbally abuse, and in the most tragic cases, even murder, their partners.
And yet, in some mysterious fashion, “Fifty Shades” has managed to essentially romanticize the strong preying upon the weak, attempting to teach young men (like mine) to objectify, violate, and discard women for their every whim and pleasure.
What I find most ironic is that this movie is being released in the midst of a growing awareness in our country of the thriving global sex slave industry, which rakes in approximately $20 billion annually.
Trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, affecting at least 20.9 million adults and children worldwide. Even more disturbing is that about 2 million children are exploited every year in the global commercial sex trade, and women and girls make up 98% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
The fact that “Fifty Shades” fuels the sexual exploitation fire, glorifies the degradation of women, and perpetuates a twisted perception of what a real man looks like, is undeniable.
Throw into the mix the rapidly growing accessibility to, and normalization of, pornography and what you’ve got is fine formula for raising a generation of young men who’ve been well taught to degrade, abuse and objectify women and children.
It’s going to take nothing less than hard work to teach young men what a real man looks like.
It’s going to take hard work to teach young men that a man who needs to degrade, control, humiliate and abuse a woman to feel like a man is no man at all. He’s a coward.
Parents must be more intentional than ever in not only protecting their children from evil influences but also in educating their children about what real manhood looks like. Fathers are the primary vehicle for modeling how to really love, honor, and cherish a woman. And mothers must require respectful communication from their boys. Our boys are watching, and as all parents know, more is caught than taught.
But in addition to modeling a healthy and enjoyable partnership, and requiring respect and honor from our young men, parents must be willing to teach their young men a few Biblical truths about what a real man knows. Here are five:
1. A real man knows that God created men and women in His very image.
2. A real man knows that every woman he encounters is God’s masterpiece, inherently worthy of honor and respect.
3. A real man knows that their naked body deserves the honor of being shared only with someone who is covenanted to never stop loving their naked soul. (Ann Voskamp)
4. A real man defends, not degrades, women.
5. And a real man knows that real love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, and it always protects.
Not exactly the message in “Fifty Shades.”
Jeannie Cunnion is the author of “Parenting the Wholehearted Child,” and a blogger at www.jeanniecunnion.com. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work, and her background combines counseling, writing, and speaking about parenting and adoption issues. Jeannie and her husband, Mike, are the proud parents of three wild and awesome boys.