HelpMeSara Podcasts

Have you purchased your ticket yet? You’re not alone if you’ve bought an advance ticket to one of the most talked about movies in years – Fifty Shades of Grey. On the heels of E.L. James unbelievable success of her trilogy of books (more than 100 million copies sold around the globe), we now get to see if the pictures in our heads match what’s on the screen.

In my soon to be released book, Why Married Couples Don’t Have sex… at least not with each other! I write about what I call the Fifty Shades phenomenon: “Perhaps spurred on by the book itself, or, more likely, by the open dialogue about sex and intimacy that it’s encouraged, women are beginning to look beyond the bookshelf in their quest for a more fulfilling sex life.”

If erotic books and movies offer some spice that night or ideas that two consenting adults can explore together, all the power to them. But that’s not what this article is really about. It’s about what happens when children have access to the books or see the movie (despite it having restricted access in the theatres). And it’s not just about this series of books or movie. What about all the under agers who are watching porn – not so soft – on their computers or iPhones. Will their perception of what making love or having sex be forever distorted? Will their exposure to porn and sex outside of the box forever change their definition and expectations of sex?

So, when my fifteen year old shared that she was looking forward to seeing the movie, I turned fifty shades of grey. While I can’t blame her for being curious about what all the fuss is about, and recognize that she knows a lot more about sex than I did at her age, I’d rather she not identify with Anastasia Steele as a female role model or see Christian Grey as an example of the kind of man to lust after. I’d also rather she not identify good sex with role playing a submissive female and seek out a dominant male to do it with. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong in exploring different approaches to sex once she’s had more experience with sex and intimacy. But not yet. Not now.

Parents with children much younger than mine will often share their concerns about the sexual images their sons and daughters are exposed to, even in you tube or music videos. Many password protect their technological advances so that their children are less likely to find what should be restricted for adults only, but still many do – in their bedrooms or when they’re with their friends.

So, while I may be able to stop my daughter from going to Fifty Shades of Grey in a movie theatre, I know that she’s beyond me when it comes to knowing how to download a movie on her computer and that forbidden fruit is very powerful.

And what about your sons? My hunch is that teenage boys may be less likely to openly express their interest in watching the movie. However, that doesn’t mean they are not interested or that they won’t too watch it on their laptops – on their own or with friends. What might their perception of women be then? And what type of pressure might they feel to live up to someone like Christian Grey, who seems to be exalted by women?

So, I’m thinking that perhaps, rather than just forbidding our children from seeing the movie (or children of any age being exposed to other pornography), it may be better to find the right time to talk to them about our concerns and why. In my case, talking about why I’m concerned about the portrayal of sex in Fifty Shades becoming her benchmark for what sex is all about and then, if she does see it, as she insists she will, she will at least (hopefully) hear my voice in the background . But before I do that, please excuse me. I’m off to purchase my advance ticket. For research purposes only, of course…