Is Abuse Romantic?

Is Abuse Romantic?

With Valentine’s Day approaching, and February being Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, it felt like a good time to talk about some realities our teens are facing with relationship expectations.

Let’s face it - We are all products of marketing whether we like to believe it or not: Fidget spinners, skinny jeans, name brands, etc. Everything from the clothes we wear on our backs, to the snacks we bring to Super Bowl parties. I like to think that I am aware of what is being marketed to me. I like to believe that I am smarter than the system. Trust me, I most definitely am not. I use all Apple products, I enjoy Starbucks over any other coffee shop, I “add to cart” non-stop on Amazon, and of all things, I just had to see 50 Shades of Grey when it came out in 2015.

I am a sucker for romantic movies. I remember going to 50 Shades of Grey back on February 14, 2015 when it first came out in theaters. I was a college student in St. Paul, MN, and working full time. I needed the money, so I picked up a shift on Valentine’s Day. During the 8 hour shift, every customer that walked in demanded I go see the movie.

After constant peer pressure, and a bit of curiosity, I went last minute to see the famous 50 Shades of Grey. As soon as I was off work, I headed to north to Blaine, MN to enjoy a risqué movie night in my favorite AMC movie theater. Like many other audience members that night, I was sucked into the tension between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. Despite the shock I was in by the adult content of the movie (I had been warned), I left wishing Anastasia hadn’t run away from Christian to the elevator. I wanted her to stay with him and change him – make him a better man.

Now there’s the problem.

I knew the relationship was full of red flags, and I’m sure other 50 Shades of Grey critics would tell you the same thing: the relationship was full of abusive tendencies such as jealousy, stalking, major misconceptions about consent, and some severe attachment issues. It’s almost too easy to dissect the abusive pieces of the story line.

So why did I want Ana to stay with Christian and “make him a better man?”

I’m not proud of how influenced I am by pop culture and marketing, but we have to at least be able to acknowledge it. We need to be able to see through what is being marketed to us. I know that not only 50 Shades of Grey, but almost any romantic movie, romanticizes the idea of “if I just stick it out and show compassion, he’ll change.” That is what is being marketed to us through these films and it has been since we were in diapers. Look at Beauty and the Beast for example. Belle falls in love with her kidnapper and yet, she is one of the most iconic Disney princesses of all time.

So here are my questions: Is stalking romantic? Is jealousy romantic? Is isolating your partner romantic?

Let me rephrase that: Is abuse romantic?

Anyone who has lived through any form of abuse knows that there is nothing romantic about it. Yet, we are taught at such a young age that “true love” will change someone. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Love doesn’t hurt. Love doesn’t stalk. Love isn’t jealous. Love doesn’t isolate. And love definitely doesn’t abuse.