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Does '50 Shades' glamorize violence against women?

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The wait is over for fans and critics alike.

After months, even years of controversy over the book, the locally-shot movie version of “50 Shades of Grey” arrives in theatres today.

The UK premiere in London drew protesters, claiming the story is domestic abuse; there has also been opposition expressed on social media.

It’s important to note, lots of people against this movie say they don’t oppose the BDSM lifestyle.

They’re against the dominating, stalker-like behavior in this story that happens outside the bedroom — things like Christian Grey tracking Anastasia Steele’s phone.

The Vancouver-based Battered Women Support Services helps women who have been victims of abuse.

Executive Director, Angela Marie MacDougall is concerned the story creates and glamorizes power imbalances between a man and woman.

“Within those power imbalances there is violence, that is also sexualized violence,” she says.

MacDougall adds anytime violence against women is glamorized or used as entertainment, it contributes to the larger problem of violence against women.

“In the 21st century, I would like to see us moving in a direction where we’re demonstrating healthy gender relationships, positive sexuality, heterosexuality between man and woman. I’d like that to be (demonstrated) and (modelled) for men, for women, for boys, and for girls.”

MacDougall says any time power imbalances are glamorized and then accompany violence or sexualized violence, harm is being done.

She says we can do better.

But is the power dynamic in 50 Shades of Grey really representative of what goes on in the BDSM community?

Organizers of the country’s largest adult-themed trade show say it’s all about boundaries and respect.

“50 Shades has certainly opened up the mainstream community up to a part of sexual life that maybe they weren’t aware of,” says Sean Libin, VP of Marketing for CanWest Productions, the producers of The Taboo Naughty but Nice Sex Show.

“From our standpoint, we applaud anyone who shines a light on sexuality and who engages in a variety of sexual practices as consensual adults. In that BDSM lifestyle that’s portrayed in the 50 Shades trilogy, I think it’s important to realize that people who engage in it, both the man and the women, have agreed to exchange that power and they’ve agreed to it with full knowledge of what they plan to do. They create rules and frameworks and boundaries and they have to respect them,” he tells News1130.

Libin says they do not endorse any type of non-consensual violence.

“A healthy sex life is the cornerstone of any positive relationship. To do that, couples need to explore and re-explore that sexuality and grow within it as relationships grow. Not everybody understands sexuality or how to properly communicate and some couples get bored in their relationships.”

As some seek new ‘adventures’ in the bedroom, Libin says whether or not they consensually cross the threshold into BDSM as a couple is up to them.

“But I applaud anyone who talks about sex, talks about sexuality, talks about how to be a better couple inside and outside the bedroom.”