That was hard to write, but it’s true. I’m hoping she’ll opt out, but here’s my plan, for better or worse.
She’s 17 so legally she can see this movie without me. Emotionally, she is nowhere near ready for it, so my hope will be that she won’t want to see it, but I guarantee you that if I forbid her to see it, she’ll sneak out to the next showing faster than I could tie her to a chair (probably not the best analogy to use in these circumstances but it was accidental!).
Whether or not we choose to let our kids watch the movie, the discussions need to happen, regardless of how uncomfortable they may be. As adults, we know what is acceptable behavior in a relationship. As teenagers, if we don’t discuss it, they may very well think movies like this are actually realistic and an acceptable way for a woman to be treated.
This movie has caused such a stir in our culture that it’s created teachable moments for us as parents. We’ve had full discussions (with her friends as well) on BDSM, sexual safety and how a man should treat a woman. I can’t guarantee those discussions would have happened if not for the controversy surrounding this movie. I can’t say I liked explaining what BDSM was. I didn’t like having to google what the exact acronym stands for (it’s not a precise acronym – BDSM is vague – big surprise).
I did like discussing the fact that it’s not our place to judge what goes on in other people’s bedrooms. I liked discussing the fact that no book or movie should glorify a woman being emotionally abused by a man.
I was absolutely proud when listening to her discuss it with her best friend (who had read the book). Her friend said she didn’t think the main character was emotionally abused by the male lead and that quotes from the book were being taken out of context to seem abusive. My daughter quickly replied, “If he didn’t say those things, they can’t be taken out of context. No woman should tolerate that treatment from anyone, let alone a man she loves.”
Bingo! It might have been one of my proudest parenting moments. Being a mom of teens is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Parenting a feisty, redheaded teenage girl is sometimes impossible. I’m usually the bad guy and always the meanest mother in the world. This is my role in life and on most days I accept it.
But it doesn’t mean I like it. I hate being the bad guy. When she was a tween, I was the fun mom. I liked fun mom. She was awesome. I hope I’ll get my title back someday.
Meanwhile, I’ll accept being the meanest mom in the world. I feel like I’ve armed her with a lifetime of religious, spiritual and moral teachings, the love of her family, a strong relationship with her father (that alone can protect her from so much!) and most of all, the example of a woman who won’t put up with misogyny. My marriage is in no way perfect, but it is loving and my kids have spent their lives watching me defend myself if anyone in the family is disrespectful. I may not be able to change other people’s behavior, but I can have a voice.
And boy, do I have a voice.