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'Fifty Shades of Grey' Movie Denounced by Conservative Watchdog for 'Glamorizing' Sexual Violence against Women

( [email protected] ) Jan 13, 2015 05:33 PM EST

Fifty Shades of Grey
'Fifty Shades of Grey' has sold over 100 million copies since 2011. Image Credit: Andrew Matthews/AP

Conservative anti-pornograpy watchdog Morality in Media has criticized "Fifty Shades of Grey," arguing that the movie sends a dangerous message through the way it normalizes sexual violence.  

The film adaptation of E.L. James' wildly popular sex-and-bondage novel is due in theaters February 13 and stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson as protagonists Christian Grey and Ana, respectively. In the story, the two engage in a relationship described by Morality in Media as an "abuse of power, female inequality, coercion, and sexual violence" that "glamorizes and legitimatizes violence against women."

"Is this really the kind of relationship we want our daughters, relatives and friends willingly entering into?  With a stalker and a batterer?" a statement released by the group asks. "Do we really want our sons to become Christian Greys, practicing a violent masculinity that degrades men as well?"

Last week, the controversial film was given an "R" rating by the Motion Picture Association of America for "unusual behavior" and other adult content.

However, Morality in Media objected to the MPAA's use of the word "unusual," arguing that it doesn't accurately represent what occurs in the film or prepare viewers for what they're about to see.

An "R" rating "severely undermines the violent themes in the film and does not adequately inform parents and patrons of the film's content," Dawn Hawkins, executive director of Morality in Media, said Monday

"The new extended trailer for the film calls it a 'fairy tale' which just further misleads the public into thinking this is simply a love story," she said, adding that the  "fairy tale" label masks the film's actual themes of manipulation, violence, and female degradation.

Since its release the book's release in 2011, "Fifty Shades of Grey" has sold more than 100 million copies around the world, according to the New York Times.

Author E.L. James recently told People magazine that romance is "what readers enjoy most about 'Fifty Shades of Grey.' When people fall in love, a certain amount of friskiness inevitably follows," she said.

However, anti-pornography groups, such as MiM, say that the idea of true romance should never be associated with the type of sexual violence depicted in James' book.

"We'd like to change the MPAA rating for 'Fifty Shades of Grey' to read: 'Promotes torture as sexually gratifying, graphic nudity, encourages stalking and abuse of power, promotes female inequality, glamorizes and legitimizes violence against women,'" Ms. Hawkins said Monday.

"Is this the description of a movie you'd promote to your son or daughter? What about yourself?" she added.