Activists Say Skip ‘Fifty Shades’ and Give Ticket Money to a Women’s Shelter

Anti–domestic violence advocates have started the ‘50 Dollars Not 50 Shades’ campaign.

(Photo: Twitter)

Feb 4, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

It’s a little more than a week till the Fifty Shades of Grey film arrives in theaters, and tickets to the big-screen adaptation of author E.L. James’ steamy novel of the same name are already selling like hotcakes. But not everyone’s down to see billionaire Christian Grey, the leading man in Fifty Shades, dominate and control (and maybe tie up and beat—there’s no telling what the film will show) his leading lady, virginal college student Anastasia Steele.

A collective of American and Canadian activists who work to prevent domestic abuse has launched 50 Dollars Not 50 Shades, a grassroots campaign asking filmgoers to press pause on their plans to buy tickets to the movie.

“The money you would have spent on movie tickets and a babysitter or movie tickets, popcorn, and drinks will go toward serving victims of abusive relationships like the one glamorized in the 50 Shades series,” states the campaign’s Facebook page. “Hollywood doesn’t need your money,” it adds. “Abused women do.”

The campaign was started by women from Stop Porn Culture, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, and the London Abused Women Centre in Canada. It’s inspired by 50 Shades Is Abuse, an effort begun nearly three years ago by Natalie Collins, a British advocate for domestic violence victims. She and other activists worry that the flick will send women the message that being stalked, controlled, and manipulated by a significant other is sexy and romantic.

Fans of the book and the upcoming film have argued that the story is nothing but harmless fantasy and that using whips, chains, and other bondage gear in the bedroom can be a good thing. It looks like American audiences agree. Online ticket vendor Fandango said on Wednesday that the movie is the fastest-selling R-rated title in the company’s 15-year history, and cinema analytics company Movio said women under 40 have purchased 75 percent of Fifty Shades tickets, reported Bloomberg News.

Collins sees nothing wrong with two consenting adults engaging in a little S and M, but like many critics, that’s not what she sees happening in Fifty Shades of Grey.

“A lot of the criticism of our campaign is that there’s nothing wrong with BDSM—we’re not saying there is. But people within the BDSM community are outraged by how the book portrays their lifestyle. This book romanticizes a perpetrator of abuse,” Collins told The Independent.

Supporters of the campaign against the film have been sharing the hashtag #50DollarsNot50Shades on social media. On Twitter, folks are posting pictures like the above image or ones that read “Put your money where women like Anastasia really end up.” Other supporters of the campaign are planning to stage in-person protests at screenings of the film.

Whether the campaign can stem the tide of ladies making girls-night-out plans to see the movie remains to be seen. If those ticket sales are any indication, just as the book was a cultural phenomenon, the film version looks equally poised to be a blockbuster.