Gender Roles In Pretty Woman And Fifty Shades Of Grey

Decent Essays
The movies, Pretty Woman and Fifty Shades of Grey, are seen to most viewers as classic fairytale films where a normal girl falls in love with her rich, handsome prince. In both films, the “rags to riches” appeal is sensationalized and made appealing. However, beneath these romanticized relationships are characteristics of abusiveness. Even though these elements are subtle in the film, they reinforce the unfortunate gender roles and hierarchy in society.
In the film, Fifty Shades of Grey, Christian Grey persuades a virgin named Anastasia Steele to participate in a bondage, dominance, submission, and masochism (BDSM) lifestyle. Christian and Ana live vastly different lifestyles. Christian is a rich, powerful executive; whereas Ana is a middle-class
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Because Ana enjoys having sex with Christian, he uses it as leverage to convince her to be the submissive in every aspect of her life. Gay mentions that “there are no limits to Christian’s needs to control Ana’s life, her decisions, and their relationship” (Gay, 201). As numerous feminist authors will argue, the reasoning behind this overwhelming craving for control is the societal stereotypes and gender roles that society continuously reinforces. Jane Caputi sums this idea up perfectly by saying, “Whereas women’s sexual charm is centrally located in their physicality, men’s chief allure emanates from their work, wealth, essentially from their power” (Caputi, 191). Women are repeatedly told to fit the “normal” mold of acting feminine and being submissive to their “powerful”, masculine partners. Unfortunately, this leads to the prominent idea that “submission is beautiful and feminine beauty is submissive” (Caputi, 191). In fact, a best-selling book called “The Total Woman” that states that a woman is truly beautiful to her husband when she “surrenders her life to him and is willing to serve him” (Caputi, 191). This ideal submissiveness is demonstrated all throughout Fifty Shades of Grey, which makes Ana’s relationship with Christian appear the most “exciting” when she is submissive to him. Therefore, all of …show more content…
I agree with this perspective because the control that Christian exerts is veritably an indication of abuse and sexual terrorism. According to Sheffield, “Sexual terrorism aims to dominate and control” (Sheffield, 113). In the film, Christian exhibits this control over Ana by beating her while they are having sex. However, the movies tries to separate Christian’s BDSM lifestyle from battery because of it sexual setting. Battery is stereotyped as occurring when a man beats up a woman in solely a violent manner. Contrary to popular belief, it can frequently occur in a sexual manner as well. In her article, “Sex and Violence”, Mackinnon states, “Battery is called violence, rather than something sex-specific… I think it is sexually done to women. Over half of the incidents are done in the bedroom (Mackinnon, 92).” Nevertheless, I agree the relationship is controlling and abusive due to the battery and stereotypical dominance that Christian exhibits in his relationship with Ana. The film tries to make the submissiveness seem ideal and like a fairytale, but it is really a reflection of the gender roles that are prevalent in

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