There’s a new campaign circling social media encouraging people to not only look into the abuse and lack of consent within the book Fifty Shades of Grey, but to also boycott the movie, with a philanthropic twist. According to their Facebook page, “#50dollarsnot50shades is a grassroots, women-led campaign, encouraging people to boycott the 50 Shades of Grey movie & give a $50 donation to [a] domestic violence shelter or agency. The money you would have spent on movie tickets and a babysitter or movie tickets, popcorn and drinks will go towards serving victims of abusive relationships like the one glamorized in the 50 Shades series. Hollywood doesn’t need your money; abused women do.”
As someone who not only practices BDSM professionally and personally and dislikes the poor excuse for BDSM erotica that is the Fifty Shades franchise, I thought that this idea was actually quite clever. Instead of supporting a movie and book series whose leading man doesn’t talk about consent with newbie Ana while also meeting all of the signs of being a domestic abuser, why not make a donation to a local women’s shelter for domestic violence? Brilliant.
Or maybe not. The campaign is not as grassroots as it claims, but instead is run by anti-pornography activists. 50 Dollars not 50 Shades is sponsored by the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC), the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE), and Stop Porn Culture. It is also affiliated with PATHS of Saskatchewan, AntiPorn.org and Pornography Harms which is apparently part of the NCSE.
Whilst looking through the tags for the campaign on tumblr, I found this post in which the user got a reply from 50 Dollars not 50 Shades’ Facebook page pertaining to sex work:
It’s funny how they don’t then ask him to boycott Walmart because that labor might be exploitative as well, rather than allow that some porn performers might enjoy their jobs.
Stop Porn Culture was co-founded by noted anti-pornography and anti-sex worker activist Gail Dines. On its Facebook page, you’ll find praise of the ban of many sex acts in porn that passed in the UK a few months ago, as well as this terrible quote: “Of course we do see problems with this article: it refers to prostituted women as ‘sex workers’ which is a horrible third wave feminist notion.”
The Facebook page for Pornography Harms often references anti-sex worker organization The Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation, works with anti-sex worker organization Stop Porn Culture and supports Dines and former porn performer and anti-porn activist Shelley Lubben. They are also working towards shutting down Backpage.
With one click, you can see that the LAWC supports the Swedish Model and that, although the organization touts its lack of religious affiliation in an effort to bolster its progressive credentials, AntiPorn.org is vehemently against sex work.
Instead of a grassroots effort to support victims of domestic violence, 50 Dollars Not 50 Shades is a well-orchestrated campaign that is piggybacking on the film’s release to promote an anti-pornography agenda, one that attempts to connect porn to violence against women, an argument that is, at best, a gross simplification. In an editorial for The Independent, former dominatrix Melissa Febos wrote about the campaign: “What’s worse is to suggest that this film has the power to increase violence against women. The success of Fifty Shades proves that some women fantasize about being dominated. Of course we do! We have all been socialized by a culture that fetishises submissive women.”
We can still take part in boycotting Fifty Shades because it’s not going to be a good movie and donate, we just don’t have to donate to anti-sex worker organizations like LAWC or NCSE. It’s easy to find a local shelter that will happily accept your donation without associating with this campaign.
Or, better yet, contribute to a far more realistic and accurate movie/book on BDSM from a real, live, sex worker couple….namely, Ernest Greene and Nina Hartley. You know…”The Master Of O”?
At least they don’t donate their earnings to sexual fascists like Gail Dines or Dawn Hopkins.
Argh, this really gets my goat! I got into an argument not long ago with a woman who said I couldn’t call myself a feminist because I had worked as a stripper. Being a feminist means I can call myself whatever I damn well please! Yes, some women are exploited in porn, and that’s sad. But there are also many women who see porn as fun, healthy, and a good way to make some money…and there is NOTHING wrong with that!
How can we, as women, stand together if we are being nitpick about stupid shit? No one bastardizes Gloria Steinem for working as a Playboy Bunny in the 70’s, because she did it for an expose, to find out what it was like. That’s why I stripped, that’s why people fucking bungee jump! Sorry, if I’m not being very articulate, but it’s hard to think when steam is coming out of my ears.
To say I am appalled by 50 shades is putting it mildly – not because it has sexual content, but because it opens in Dublin while the trial of a man who groomed his sub to accept anything and may have killed her is ongoing. I can’t even imagine how both families feel looking at the publicity.
Boycott the movie, but give that $50 to your kids (or someone else’s) because 50 Shades is the point at which we *SHOULD* be learning the difference between porn and abuse…
My big objection to the movie is releasing at Valentines Day and pretending it is ‘romantic’. romantic comedy maybe.
Yes, women fantasize about being forced to enjoy themselves. That is why the UK’s Mills&Boon, and North America’s Harlequins are still so very popular. They have alpha males insisting that the spunky females embrace their sexuality. submitting to the powerful forces means not denying the real feelings of sexual arousal, because she isn’t permitted to allow society’s morals etc to deny them.
but they are just books. Even the authors in the height of the 60s and 70s would say that this is a ‘hero’ who they as women would be happy to bash over the head with a brick. They are fully aware the readers aren’t looking for that same guy in real life or for themselves. They aren’t stupid.
anti porn and anti SW orgs all think all women (except them) are stupid, that is what is so annoying about these kinds of propaganda efforts.
Good lord, where did Melissa Febos pop up from? I haven’t seen anything from her in years. I think it’s rather questionable that she’s promoting herself as a responsible advocate for BDSM, given that in her memoir she talks about doing very dangerous scenes while high, and makes no apology or awareness that it’s not okay to do that. (And yes, I asked her.) Not someone I want representing the BDSM community.
Ughh, and basically her entire memoir is about how BDSM and sex work is pathology? It’s the most self-centered Freudian piece of drivel by a therapist’s child I’ve ever read.
Interesting. I wrote this article, but the editor added that piece in to flush it out so I’m not personally aware of Febos. I must do more research. Thanks for the info.
The article linked itself was good, and Melissa Febos is no reflection on your piece. Just funny that people are quoting her as a pro domme authority.
[…] to skip on a non-principled, literary-quality stance. (And in particular stay away from the “$50 Not 50 Shades” campaign, which is run by anti-porn, anti-sex worker activists — no friends to kink or healthy sexuality […]