In an event bound to ramp up the controversy surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey, a student body leader at the University of Illinois has been charged with sexual assault — and he’s allegedly blaming the book.
Freshman Mohammad Hossain is behind bars with his bail set at $500,000 after prosecutors say he sexually assaulted a woman in his dorm room. The woman says she pleaded for him to stop as he beat her with a belt and his fists and then raped her.
Does this sound like the plot of Fifty Shades of Grey to you? As poorly executed as the BDSM scenes in the book may be, Fifty Shades is not a manual on how to rape. The foundation of the BDSM lifestyle is consent. No matter how extreme sex acts related to BDSM culture seem to those on the outside looking in, those acts are performed with the consent of both parties.
Consent. It can’t be emphasized enough. Consent is critical whether you’re testing the BDSM waters or having perfectly vanilla sex with your spouse.
And according to allegations against Mohammad Hossain, he not only failed to get consent from the woman he assaulted, he repeatedly ignored her desperate pleas and attempts to escape him. Blaming scenes from Fifty Shades of Grey is a disgusting cop-out. It’s a particularly bizarre — but not unsurprising — effort to deflect the blame when it comes to rape. This is rape culture at its very worst. But let’s be clear: It’s just as ludicrous to blame an rape on an erotic work of fiction as it would be to blame violence on Warner Brothers cartoons.
Our thoughts are with the 19-year-old student who went through this ordeal and had the courage to share it with another person, who contacted the police. Keep in mind that almost 70 percent of rapes go unreported to the authorities. Hossain’s victim not only has to deal with the assault, but the storm of unnecessary commentary linking what happened to a popular film and movie. Let’s place the blame firmly where it lies — in the choices made by her alleged assailant.