Comment

Is a pink bus really more offensive than Fifty Shades of Grey?

Harriet Harman arrives at ASDA Stevenage for the launch of Labour's Woman to Woman election campaign bus at ASDA supermarket in Stevenage (PA)

I concluded many moons ago that romance in this country is terminally ill but this magical phenomenon looks set to breathe its very last when cinemas across the globe mark Valentine’s Day by screening Fifty Shades of Grey.

Call me a frigid Catholic bore but in my view, linking the glorification of violence against women with the day where we supposedly celebrate true love, will be the moment romance gives one last blood-curdling gasp before it gives up the ghost entirely.

I won’t bore you with all the arguments you are well-acquainted with about why this “erotic romance novel” carries a problematic message to say the least, but the main thing which strikes me is that commentators need to get their priorities in order.

Yesterday, while supposedly feminist publications giddily instructed me that I simply must watch this dross, the same publications were frothing at the mouth about Labour’s pink bus adverts because they deemed them patronising to women.

I don’t like being patronised but I also don’t like being persuaded that sadomasochism is harmless and healthy. As one campaigner pointed out: “In reality, how ‘Fifty Shades’ would end is that she’s running for her life to a battered women’s shelter, with children in tow, she’s got her front teeth knocked out, she’s got cigarette burns up and down her arm… she’s living off the grid without a bank account or a cell phone, cause these sadists never let go.”

But it seems that we live in a world where consenting to humiliating and violent sex acts is regarded as empowering or just a bit of fun, but taking your husband’s name when you marry him is the mark of a real doormat.

In short, targeting women with one shade of pink is deemed more offensive than wooing them with Fifty Shades of Grey – and that’s a problem.