Ask Zoe is Aleteia’s advice column addressing the everyday decisions we make and how faith informs and guides them. If you have a dilemma, question, or need some general advice for your life, email Zoe. All questions are given consideration and names are withheld.
I have a close group of girlfriends—a couple are practicing Christians and the rest are not—and most of us have known each other for years. About once a month the group of us get together for "girls’ night out" and this time, they all want to see Fifty Shades of Grey. A few of them read the book and liked it and the rest are curious to see what all the controversy is about. I don’t want to see it, but I’m not sure how to tell my friends. I don’t want to drive any wedges into our friendship. Any advice?
Even though we associate peer pressure with the teenage years, it doesn’t completely go away when we’re adults, does it? Not that your friends are pressuring you, but it sounds like you think they’ll feel judged if you don’t go—or that you’ll be considered a wet blanket.
Your question does makes me wonder: How strong are these friendships in the first place? It seems to me that good friends—especially those you’ve known a while—should be able to handle the fact that you don’t want to see a particular movie. Are you perhaps being a little paranoid here, or are your friends really that insecure?
The easiest way out, of course, is to give yourself a reason to not be available that evening. Surely no one expects everyone in the group to make every girls’ night. But I think you have a real opportunity here.
Fifty Shades of Grey is targeted to women and many of them are eating it up—the book first, and now the film. A lot could be said about the reasons women are so drawn to this story—I believe it’s a mixture of things, plus just plain curiosity; people will do many things that aren’t beneficial to them simply because they’re curious.
I recommend that you find a little courage and explain why you don’t want to see the movie. Write it in an email or text if it’s easier. If you don’t know how to articulate your reasons, do a little research. Christian and secular media outlets and many websites have reviewed the book and movie and have published commentaries about why the story perpetuates violence against women, predatory behavior, messed up sexuality, a false idea of love, and more. (Not to mention that it’s a poorly written story in the first place.)
The best way to explain something like this in a way that won’t put others on the defensive is to use "I" statements, such as "I’d rather not see the film because I find it hard to get images like that out of my head." Or, "It bothers me to support a soft-porn film like this with my money, etc. If you make it about you, it’s easier to say it and to be heard. You never know… you might just be giving others in the group permission not to see it as well.
This movie can give us a chance to have some interesting conversations with our women friends: about love, relationships, being pursued, desire, sex, pornography, abuse, violence, morality, the purpose of our bodies, and more.
If we women want respect, true love, equality, and all those things we say we do, why are we reading and watching Fifty Shades of Grey? Let’s stand for something more reflective of our dignity.
If you have a dilemma or question for Zoe, please send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Zoe Romanowsky is the Lifestyle Editor and Video Curator for Aleteia. A freelance writer, blogger, and consultant, she’s been published in many national publications including Real Simple, Catholic Digest, Baltimore Eats, and TruthAtlas. Zoe holds a Masters degree in Counseling from Franciscan University, and a certification in life coaching from the Coaches Training Institute (CTI). She’s an urban homeschooling mother of twins with a weakness for dark chocolate, Instagram, vintage Harleys, and vodka martinis—not necessarily in that order.