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Letters to the editor, February 19, 2015

These are the letters and comments from the print edition

50 shades of disappointed

I am the mother of a survivor of intimate partner violence. I have just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I was never interested in reading this book before or after my daughter's experience, but since the movie has now been released and the subject matter is so mainstream, I wanted to have the right to have an opinion about it, so I read it.

How this book was ever regarded as a good read and became a bestseller, I will never understand. The writing is extremely immature. When I was a young teenager I remember my friends and I writing love stories about our favourite singers and actors: fan fiction, if you will. This is exactly how this book reads. The writer repeats words ad nauseum and can't even describe the male lead as more than "An Adonis" or "so sexy, so good-looking." The lead female refers to her genitals as "down there" countless times throughout the book. If you're looking for a steamy read, there are much better writers out there.

Still this book, this movie, this phenomenon, is 50 shades of disturbing. Why? Because it is marketed as a love story/romance. For example, on the back cover the grab line reads, "A GoodReads Choice Awards Finalist for Best Romance." Underneath the synopsis of the book reads, "Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever." As for the movie, it was released on Valentine's Day.

With this marketing, young women/girls will be misled into thinking the relationship described in this book is healthy. But it most definitely is not. My daughter was in an abusive relationship. I have heard her experience and have done research on intimate partner violence. I asked my daughter if, knowing what she knows now, and having read the book herself, if young women/girls who have NOT been in an abusive relationship would be misled into thinking an abusive relationship is OK after reading this book, and she said, "Yes."

 There are countless examples of how the relationship in the book is about intimate partner violence/sexual assault/stalking/rape culture, and should not be seen as a romantic or healthy relationship in any way. He stalks her from the beginning by tracking her whereabouts, and is always saying that there is something about her, that he can't leave her alone. He "charms" her mother by showing up unexpectedly while Ana is visiting her—and I can attest to being sucked in by the "charms" of the abusive boyfriend. He keeps her away from family and friends as much as possible. She cries constantly after being with him. One of her thoughts: "I don't want him to beat me, is that so unreasonable?" 

I'm not a prude, and I wouldn't tell people not to read this book. I am, however, deeply disturbed by the marketing and targeting of this book and movie. One giant floor-model movie advertisement I saw recently has the female lead sprawled out provocatively in the male lead's white shirt with an image of the male lead holding the tie he uses to bind her with the word, "Curious?" in the middle of the poster. Young women and girls will read the book and they will watch the movie because they will be curious, but it will be for all the wrong reasons. I truly believe it will lead to increased incidents of intimate partner abuse, especially in our young people. This scares the shit out of me. —Chris Hulme Colin, Halifax

It's Sunday, not Gunday

According to a Canadian Press story that came out this week, Nova Scotia's "government is considering lifting a ban on Sunday hunting. Under the Nova Scotia Wildlife Act, hunting is not permitted on Sundays, although Mi'kmaq can hunt on any day. The province says it is seeking public input on Sunday hunting."

Sunday traditionally has been a day that families and individuals go hiking and take their pets along. It's a day that we can feel safe in the woods. Fall weekends are the time Beavers, Cubs and Scouts can get into the woods to practice their outdoor skills.

I encourage you to vote NO to this idea on the government's online survey, Please vote as soon as possible and pass on to others. —Archie MacLean, Halifax

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