Why The Straits Times’ John Lui Should Not Advocate “Fifty Shades Of Grey” As Valid Entertainment

Dear feminist men,

Thank you for being feminist. Thank you for standing for equal rights. Thank you for being a decent human being. Thank you for following us into battle.

But you have to understand that this isn’t your fight.

You’re like the LGBT rights movement’s straight ally of the women’s rights movement – we appreciate your support, but you’re still not one of us. You’re just our too-preppy cheerleader. You’re not experiencing what we do, so although your support is very much appreciated and encouraged, don’t fight for us: just fight alongside us.

Now that that’s all clear, let’s move on to why we’re all gathered here today.

Fifty Shades of Grey premiered over the weekend, and moviegoers were split clean down the middle – those who unabashedly love it, and those who are absolutely repulsed by it.

According to the opinion piece The Straits Times ran on Monday, ‘Fifty Shades bashing says a lot about men’s fragile egos’, fedora-wearing, neck-bearded, #NotAllMen ‘meninists’ fall into the latter. Although this is probably true, this piece might as well have been written by one of them.

Photo courtesy of Reuters
Photo courtesy of Reuters

Before we move on to the issues with the piece, can we give a round of applause to the writer, Mr John Lui, for acknowledging that men have incredibly fragile egos? I don’t know about you, but I got a real kick out of that.

The piece brought up very valid points. Like how, for some reason, a very specific group of men (read: meninists) get butt hurt whenever there is a win for women. It argues that these men should let women enjoy the entertainment that has been tailored for them. That we should give women the right to consume their entertainment and stop making fun of women’s entertainment, like Twilight, One Direction and Justin Bieber.

Yes, entertainment geared towards women is usually problematic, and Fifty Shades is no exception. Let’s not talk about the fundamental, very obvious flaws that Fifty Shades has. We all know that it romanticises an abusive relationship. We all know that it’s yet another piece of entertainment that strokes the male ego at a woman’s expense. We all know that this movie pretty much dismisses the progress women have made in film and TV the past years.

Rich and handsome, but still an abusive piece of sh*t
Rich and handsome, but still an abusive piece of sh*t

Not only does The Straits Times piece not address these issues, it has the audacity to claim to be pro-women over the thinly veiled male point-of-view.

I’d like to reiterate that feminist men are great, and we should have more of them, but I also want to re-emphasise that this is not their fight.

The biggest problem this piece presents is that it takes an inherently women-centric debate, and turns it into something about men. Again. The writer didn’t even try to conceal his arrogance in the matter, daring to criticise other men for their fragile ego, while he puts himself on a pedestal. He gives the impression that he is above other men, simply for not bashing a movie that is targeted to women.

His entitlement to something that isn’t his, despite being well-intentioned, is still not right.

This whole piece is a display of male arrogance, under a guise of the understanding male ally. It says “I am uncomfortable when we are not talking about me, even though this issue has nothing to do with me”.

It would have been better if a piece on how Fifty Shades revolves around an abusive relationship, which has been incorrectly glorified, were written. Or, even better, how we shouldn’t romanticise, and in turn, cheapen abuse and abuse victims. Given that The Straits Times is a great platform to get this sort of message across, why not educate instead of put up this puerile piece of work?

Fight for victims of sexual and emotional abuse, not for women’s rights to consume entertainment that perpetuates these issues.

We appreciate your support, really, but understand that this is not your fight. You’re merely an ally, and if you want to continue being an ally, please be a good one.


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