50 shadesIn today’s edition of my decreasingly neutral report of my read of 50 Shades – hereafter bearing the title “Worst Book I’ve Ever Finished”: Attachment.

It’s the biological motivation system that bonds us emotionally with each other. Us and the other mammals, but us especially. The person you’re attached to is your SAFE HAVEN, your EMOTIONAL HOME, the place you go when you are stressed out.

Attachment is what jealousy is about – attachment threat – and it’s what the desire to be “possessed” is ultimately about. So when Ana gets all eager about “belonging” to” the hero, that’s attachment.

Attachment is powerful and it can be pleasurable. And fun to play with. Lots of women (lot of everybody, actually) like to feel claimed and possessed because it feels safe, it feels like having an emotional home.

But when attachment and stress get together, complicated things happen.

Many of you may be familiar with the important though troubling work of Harry Harlow. (That video I just linked to? Not easy to watch for everyone. Click with caution.) The crucial piece of his work I want to talk about is the Monster Mothers.

The Monster Mothers were mechanical cylinders covered in cloth and with pingpong ball faces. The baby monkeys attached to them very much as they would attach to biological mothers. But these mechanisms would jet cold air or blunted spikes or otherwise FORCIBLY JETTISON the baby monkey off of them.

What did the baby monkeys do when they had been shaken, hit, or shoved by their “mothers”?

They RAN BACK TO THEIR MOTHERS.

Of course they did. Your attachment object is your safe haven, the place you go when you’re stressed. Even when your attachment object IS ALSO THE SOURCE OF THAT STRESS.

Which brings me to…

Five Signs that Ana and Christian’s Relationship is Definitely Abusive and Not Sexy and Not Loving:

1. When she says, “Nice knowing you,” he believes she means she doesn’t want to see him again, and so he goes to her apartment with a bottle of champagne. The lady said no. What should happen next is you ask for permission to talk about it.

2. He’s not “like a stalker,” HE ACTUALLY DOES STALK HER. He tracks her phone, he knows her mother’s name and address, he finds out what flight she’s on… Having had a stalker myself, let me tell you: that kind of thing is fucking terrifying in real life. I get that in the book it’s just supposed to be like, “He KNOWS me, I’m IMPORTANT to him,” but it’s violence. It’s not cute or sexy or fun. It’s abuse.

3. Ana is constantly worried that Christian is “mad at her.” If your partner’s anger makes you fearful, so that you avoid doing or saying things just so they don’t get mad, that’s a sign that your relationship is dysfunctional at best and possibly abusive. Let me say that again: if you are afraid of your partner’s anger, that’s a sign of abuse. If you have to say, “Please don’t hit me,” that’s a sign of abuse. Okay.

4. “I have issues with food, therefore you are required to change your eating behavior for me.” Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. In reality, “I have issues with food, therefore seeing you engage in that particular behavior makes me feel uncomfortable, but I know it’s your body to deal with according to your own desires. You do you.”

5. Ana’s friend Kate is seriously worried about Ana, and hates Christian despite the fact that she’s boning C’s brother. She’s worried because suddenly Ana’s crying all the time – in fact, every time she sees Christian, she cries. THAT’S A GOOD REASON TO BE WORRIED WHEN IT’S LITERALLY ONE WEEK INTO THE RELATIONSHIP. CLEARLY IT’S NOT A “ROUGH PATCH.”

So it’s an abusive relationship.

Okay. That’s all for now.

More in FiftyShades
Emily Reads 50 Shades Part 3: “don’t make it more than I can bear”

In today's edition of Emily Reads 50 Shades, I want to discuss two important phenomena in social science:...

Emily Reads 50 Shades Part 2: There’s something about Ana

"There's something about you." That's why Christian Grey wants to fuck Anastasia Steele hard. There's something about her....

Close