With Valentine’s Day approaching, love is in the air. Special dates are planned, reservations are booked, and — lest we forget — Galentine’s Day is celebrated. But here’s some news on a wholly different kind of love: A particularly shocking headline this past week heralded that ticket sales for the Valentine’s Day release of 50 Shades of Grey, that eyebrow-raising, heartpounding, fan-fic turned BDSM- lite novel turned blockbuster — boomed on Fandango. The movie has had most popular pre-sale success since The Hunger Games, and the most popular R-rated pre-sale ever for the site (http://variety.com/2015/film/news/fifty-shades-of-greyisfastest-

So, yay for cinema. Yay for Valentine’s Day. Love conquers all. Blah, blah, blah. But our staff on The College Reporter, however, view this surge of ticket sales as a troubling trend. It would be one thing if 50 Shades was purely about escapist sexcapades, but in fact, the relationship between the protagonists Ana and Christian is actually one riddled with abuse and
manipulation. Bedroom antics aside (after all, as long as there’s consent, to each their own), Christian, an older, experienced, and extremely wealthy man, seduces the young ingenue Ana. He proceeds to stalk her and intimidate her. And, though the sex they go on to have is theoretically consensual in a legal sense, please note that it is sex that Christian pressured her into having. This is not romance or love. It is abuse. The popularity of this book series and upcoming film is very concerning because it normalizes, and even romanticizes, the abusive relationship at the center of the franchise. For more information, check out this twitter feed: https://twitter.com/50shadesabuse.

But hey, there are some bright spots in this season of love, and many ways to combat the presence of abuse in 50 Shades. For instance, February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. The organization Love is Respect organizes this important month and offers suggestions for friends and help for victims. The website includes a live chat and many resources to assist
those struggling with dating violence. Visit http://www.loveisrespect.org/ to learn more.

Another special event in February, especially around Valentine’s Day, is the annual celebration of women known as The Vagina Monologues, by Eve Ensler. The play, written in 1996, is widely staged in February. F&M’s production is taking place this weekend in the Other Room Theater on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7pm. The play focuses on, quite
simply, what does it mean to have a vagina? How does modern American woman relate to her own experience and sexuality? It gives women, and their oft-unnamed sex organs, a voice and a forum to laugh, cry, share, and come together. And in our culture today, where millions of
Americans will surely pass a few hours this weekend watching the wide-eyed Ana fall prey to the predatory Mr. Grey, The Vagina Monologues are more relevant than ever. Happy Valentine’s Day, all.