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50 Shades of Normalization Part Two: the Cinema & Marketing to Teens

When I looked at my student’s personal dictionaries today, I read that one student thought an appropriate book for AP English was this one. The day before I saw the same title on two other female students’ reading goal charts. I do not usually ban books in my classroom, but I’ve never felt quite so passionately against a book before this. I am beyond dismayed and quite disgusted. The harm this book may do to impressionable young women! I actually wrote in my student’s notebook: “This book disgraces all women. We should fight against these attitudes not read books about them that normalize abusive relationships.” Too far? I wanted to write pages.
My friend Ruth recommended I read Lady Diction’s blog. I am sure Ruth had no idea I’d had these experiences with student readers this week, nor that I felt so adamantly against a book that debases women. (No, I have not read it — nor do I need to. ) Looks like Lady Diction has similar thoughts. Here is a post that says a good deal of what I am thinking:

Lady Diction

In the winter of 1986 when I was just sixteen years old, I viewed Nine 1/2 Weeks (Directed by Adrian Lyne and starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke) at a local movie theater.  I was on a date with a boy I only liked platonically, which I’d have to explain later in the car, and was fascinated by the power dynamics and BDSM in the movie. The film, based on Elizabeth McNeill’s non-fiction book, Nine and a Half Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair, explores the brief sexual relationship between characters Elizabeth and John. I still vividly recall images from the movie: Kim’s bowler hat, the refrigerator and milk scene, the watch scene, and Kim Basinger crawling across the floor for money.

Were these healthy images for a sixteen year old girl to see? Perhaps not. At the time, I thought the relationship was romantic and cried when the couple…

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