Why Christian Grey is more dangerous than Jax Teller

jax teller shirtless charlie hunnam

Jax Teller is a murderer. Christian Grey is an abuser portrayed to millions of women as the romantic ideal. Only one of these characters scares me.

When I heard the news that Hunnam was cast as Christian Grey in the 50 Shades of Grey adaptation, I wasn’t pleased

Charlie Hunnam is hot. That fact is already in evidence. He’s also a talented and charismatic actor. So casting him as the lead in the film adaptation of one of the most popular book series of all time seems like a win for Charlie Hunnam fans, and by extension, humanity (especially since he’s bound to get naked). However, when I heard the news that Hunnam was cast as Christian Grey in the 50 Shades of Grey adaptation, I wasn’t pleased. In fact, My reaction was more on par with this:

disappointed gif

Why wasn’t I pleased that one of my favorite actors from one of my favorite television shows got this huge break? Because even though Jax Teller, Hunnam’s character on Sons of Anarchy, is an adulturing, drug-running, arms-dealing murderer, he’s less dangerous as a character than Christian Grey. Grey’s crimes are more insidious, smaller: Emotional abuse. Taking away a woman’s autonomy. Physical abuse. But even though Grey isn’t murdering people in cold blood, the key difference is this: Teller’s actions aren’t excused. Grey’s actions are sold as romance.

Sons of Anarchy is a show about criminals making fucked up decisions that hurt people. They constantly pay for their actions, either with physical pain, emotional pain, or sometimes with their lives. What they do, while sometimes justified in the universe of the show, is never presented as a how-to guide to life. 50 Shades of Grey, on the other hand, is presented as just that: “Women, this is how your man should be.” Let me unequivocally state one thing:

Your man should not be like Christian Grey. If he is, get out of that relationship. Now.

If two consenting adults enjoy getting tied up, whipped, spanked, or anything else, I say that’s great.

Why? Because Christian Grey is a manipulative, abusive piece of shit. Now, before everyone gets all riled up about their favorite fictional sex god, I am not saying that Christian Grey is abusive because of his “Red Room of Pain,” or the fact that he is into BDSM. If two consenting adults enjoy getting tied up, whipped, spanked, or anything else, I say that’s great. In fact, whatever two consenting adults want to do in their bedroom (or kitchen, or dining room, as the case may be), is totally a-okay by me.

Because he puts a ring on it, she is somehow elevated to a higher level? One in which he doesn’t have to beat her? Except he still does? Look, the whole thing is fucked, is my point.

My problem with 50 Shades is that Ana, while technically an adult, doesn’t consent to a lot of what happens to her, and instead of BDSM being portrayed as sexy fun times, it is portrayed as an actual punishment for non-bedroom activities and something that only “broken” people are into. After they get married, how many times does Christian tell Ana, “You’re my wife, not my sub?” Dude. In a healthy BDSM relationship, she can be both! But instead, because he puts a ring on it, she is somehow elevated to a higher level? One in which he doesn’t have to beat her? Except he still does? Look, the whole thing is fucked, is my point.

Jenny Trout is an author of erotic fiction, among many other things. She spent a great deal of time on her blog excellently recapping the 50 Shades series and ripping it apart, piece by piece. Besides the fact that it’s Twilight fan fiction and written terribly, she often brings up the ways in which it glorifies domestic abuse and disguises it as romance. Most pointedly, she wrote a post titled, “50 Shades and Abusive Relationships,” in which she takes a list of “red flags” for abusive relationships and shows how all of them apply to Anastasia and Christian.

Personally, the part that sends me into a rage blackout comes in Chapter 3 of the final book in the trilogy, 50 Shades Freed. Ana and Christian are honeymooning in France. They’re on a nude beach, and Ana dares to take her top off, which infuriates Christian. Later that night, he covers her body in hickeys. Not as a natural byproduct of sex, but as a punishment. An act meant to temporarily disfigure her and ensure her modesty throughout the rest of their vacation.

“Look at me!” I pull down my camisole to reveal the top of my breasts. Christian gazes at me, his eyes not leaving my face, his expression wary and uncertain. He’s not used to seeing me this mad. Can’t he see what he’s done? Can’t he see how ridiculous he is? I want to shout at him, but I refrain – I don’t want to push him too far. Heaven knows what he’d do.

So they’re on their honeymoon, he covers her in hickeys, she’s furious, but she doesn’t want to “go too far,” because she’s afraid of him. Lord knows I’m not a relationship expert, but you guys, that doesn’t seem like a great start to a healthy marriage.

Jax Teller is not being sold to the public as the romantic ideal.

Jax Teller, on the other hand, is certainly more obviously violent. He beats the shit out of people on a regular basis, has done time in prison, orders murders, frames people for murders, and, you know, actually murders people. He is not a good dude. However, he doesn’t bother me nearly as much as Christian Grey. Why? Because Jax Teller is not being sold to the public as the romantic ideal.

Yes, many people who watch Sons of Anarchy want to bone Jax Teller. But come on, have you seen him? I direct you to this lovely image, sent to me by our own Katie Schenkel:

Charlie hunnam stroking a motorcycle

It’s oddly mesmerizing, right?

But while Jax is sometimes portrayed as sympathetic, he is never portrayed as someone women should actively seek out or mould their man into. We have just started season 6, and at no point, have I heard women saying, “Man, I wish my husband would be more like Jax. There’s simply not nearly enough gun running and cheating in our relationship. And our children haven’t been kidnapped even once!”

Jax is a fucked up character who is portrayed as just that. Christian is portrayed as a fucked up character who just needs a good woman to fix him … at the expense of her own health and well-being. As happy as I am that Hunnam got this huge opportunity, my only hope is that Kelly Marcel, who wrote the screenplay, does a better job of making this a fun, sexy, healthy story than E.L. James did. Because everyone needs the opportunity to see Charlie Hunnam naked without feeling guilty about it.

Photo Credit: FX

16 Comments on “Why Christian Grey is more dangerous than Jax Teller

  1. Awesome post! I agree wholeheartedly. I love SOA and was excited to see Charlie cast. I hated the books..read them, because everyone was saying how great they were. The writing was horrendous and it was like a car wreck on the highway..you just can’t not look. I kept reading hoping they would get better..I was skimming pages by the end and making fun of how James kept using the same adjectives over and over again. I am thrilled to think that Charlie will get a lot of exposure (sorry for that one) but hope and pray that the movie screenplay changes it up from the book.

  2. So Kona, here’s the thing, the fact that you see killing people as a better thing than a consensual BDSM relationship is pretty messed up to me, and it says more about you than the characters you’re referring to here. Christian Grey had consensual relationships with his subs, he had a contract both parties agreed on that explained in detail what the relationship was going to be about. When Ana came into his life the whole dynamic changed. She knew nothing about the lifestyle but through trial and error she learned and she asked Christian in many occasions to “play” because she also enjoyed it. There was no physical abuse, these relationships were 100% consensual and even when Ana walked out on him, it was her who asked him to show her what it was all about. So, if killing people is a better thing to do in your head than a consensual BDSM relationship, the problem wasn’t Christian’s, the problem is you!

    • Kona I think you misread the whole point of the story. like Lily said everything in your head is more messed up than the character Christian because what we as females see is not an abusive relationship at all, if he was abusive I doubt Ana would have fallen for him.

    • Nope. I actually state pretty clearly that one of the main problems with the Ana character is one of consent. She is terrified of Christian and of the consequences that will follow if she steps out of line. What constitutes stepping out of line in Christian’s eyes? Having a drink with a friend, completing a work day without responding to multiple emails on company time, sunbathing topless on a topless beach, etc. All of these “infractions” are met with not fun sex play, but with actions that even Ana herself sees as an actual punishment. The hallmark of a consensual, healthy BDSM relationship is not being terrified that your partner is going to beat the shit out of you.

  3. An abusive women cowers down to the abuser out of fear! Ana wasn’t abused, she entered into a loving consensual relationship and told Christian what she liked and didn’t like! An abuser wouldn’t have cared what she liked and would have kept up the abuse until he had all the power and broke her spirit! Jax, in my opinion, is an emotional abuser, because Tara has tried to tell him how she would like things to change for their family but yet he continues to pull her into the same dark place he is in and is to wrapped up in his desires to see how broken her spirit is becoming!
    I love both of these fictional stories and remind myself this is fiction!

  4. Sorry to hear that your not happy he doesn’t kill her in this story. Sounds to me your relationship is all vanilla. Lol if she felt like she was being abused why would she keep going back for more. Also get your panties out of a bunch its a made up story, if it was going to bug you, you should have not read it.

  5. While I understand the point the writer was trying to convey, I’m a bit off kilter. The books are fictional, they are an interpretation of a very specific type of relationship. I don’t see how the casting of any actor is going to create a positive or negative reflection on the books. (or show S.O.A.) It’s ALL made up. Yes, the books go where our society has tread lightly until now, but we are so blind to violence, that I see no reason to try and compare the characters and their actions. Murderer, abuser, lover, fighter, etc… IT’S FICTION. Entertaining and gripping. But fiction.

  6. Why am I not surprised to see the same old tired arguments in this comment section? It’s not real hard to grasp, folks. The BDSM in 50 Shades of Grey is not consensual. Does Ana say yes? Sure. Is it enthusiastic consent? Absolutely not. She is coerced and threatened from the get-go. At least twice in the first book he tells her that he could have sex with her whether she wanted him to or not. Guess what that is? It’s rape. If you as a woman ten times, and she says no nine times out of the ten, it’s not enthusiastic consent. Ana does not enjoy the BDSM aspect of her relationship, she feels deeply shamed by it in the first book, and she only does it because she wants to keep Christian– he tells her that they only way they’ll have a relationship is if she is his sub, and because she is desperate to be with him, she does things she doesn’t want to do. That’s not romance. It’s abuse.

    The entire trilogy treats BDSM like it’s a symptom of mental illness. For those of us actually in the lifestyle– that is, those of us who did not get introduced to BDSM through 50SOG– these books are horrifying examples of real life abuse that we see within the community over and over again. A man who believes that being a Dom means treating a woman like a mindless fuck toy, whether she wants that relationship or not. A man who will prey on naive, inexperienced women and gaslight them into believing that if they really, really loved their Dom, they would consent to things they don’t want to do. Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop trying to defend people in the lifestyle by using this book as an example. I have not met a single kinky person who wasn’t horrified by what they read in these books, because it reads like rape to people who actually understand what safe, sane, and consensual mean.

    Christian Grey gets Ana drunk to gain her consent. He stalks her across the country when she asks him for space. He makes her feel guilty for using a safe word– because she should put his pleasure above her own safety, and would if she really loved him. He puts marks on her body to shame her into covering up “his” property. He makes a list of people who aren’t allowed access to Ana, a list that Ana doesn’t know about until near the middle of the final book. He meddles with her finances and keeps her prisoner in the interest of “protecting” her. Ana is afraid of him and makes vague statements about not knowing what he will do to her in various situations. And not in a sexy way. What more do you people need to understand that in any real life situation, this would be considered abuse? I get it, you read the book, it got your lady parts tingly, so now you think it’s the best damn thing ever. That does not mean Christian Grey is not an abuser.

    And if you’re going to run around saying, “Why did Ana go back to him,” or “she wouldn’t have fallen for him if he was abusive,” then you know nothing about domestic violence. Go out, educate yourself about abuse. If you’re not willing to do that, then at least stop spouting what you think you know about the issue, because every time you put that thought out there “she wouldn’t have fallen in love with him if he were an abuser,” or “she wouldn’t go back to him if she didn’t want it,” you are furthering beliefs that harm women in real life. Are you seriously that deluded with love for a fictional character that real women dying are less important than your beloved Christian Grey? If that is the case, you might need to check your priorities.

    I feel like most of the commenters on this post are in an abusive relationship with Christian “Gaslight” Grey.

  7. I understand that if this book has brought some spark into your sex lives and it’s made you happier. (Although I question what kind state it was in beforehand, that mean’t that 50SOG trilogy made a massive improvement.)Good on you for that. But. Do not use this book as the almigty standard that all BDSM relationships are like. Because it is not.

    As I am in a BDSM dynamic/relationship, I know that those books do not describe what BDSM is. I also have had been in an abusive relationship in the past. I can say honestly that I had the same mindset as Ana when I was in the abusive relationship. I was scared of saying the wrong thing, incase he did something terrible. He made me terrible for having my own life. In my current non-vanilla relationship, it’s the healthiest relationship I have had.

    Plus, she describes him spanking or anything kink related, with heavy words, as in she is getting assaulted or abused. Which if you are thinking or using those types of words to describe your relationship. You need to take a fucking step back.

    Seeing the people who defend Christian, the very man who buys the company in which Ana works in, just so he can keep a eye on her. States that she shouldn’t drive, even though she is an adult and can drive. Admits fully that he only enjoys beating women because they look like his crack whore mother, dictates how she eats and who she talks to. FINALLY, he gets angry at HER for her own boss sexually harrassing her.Makes me want to eat my own face due to the amount of stupidity.

    Honestly, all mighty defenders of 50SOG trilogy. When this all happens to you, get back to me and tell me what a fucking magical romantic experience it was.

    Also, the general “it’s only fiction” argument is void because people are easily influenced by books and media. So you will get people who will see this as a how to manual.

    Finally. I would like to say, I love this Kona and I am a huge fan of you Jenny.

    • Thank you, Hannah. It’s important for people who are “in the life,” as it were, to come and share their perspective. Please don’t eat your own face though. I’d be sad.

  8. I feel there is a reason why women read ‘Shades of Grey’ and feel that ‘everyone needs the opportunity to see Charlie Hunnam naked’.

    This post is just words, millions of Shades of Grey books sold is action. Action shows true feelings, words are just lies one tells to oneself. Men need to learn from that: Nice bodies, bad character – not the other way around.

  9. I’m re-reading 50SOG with new eyes. Not because of anything I read here, but because I started watching SOA because Charlie Hunnam was cast as Christian and I admit I like both characters. 50SOG is an intriguing story that has les to do with the lifestyle and more to do loving someone who is damaged.

    I do not think Ana is abused. I do not think Ana was raped. I think Ana fell in love with an emotionally fractured man and made some tough choices on how to deal with it. I don’t the Christian is a true Dom and I know Ana is not a sub. I think that these two people are examples of what happens when love someone who is fundamentally broken. For all his wealth Christians need for control stemmed from feeling inadequate as a child and having that preyed on by a pedophile.

    Yes, Ana walked a tight rope with him, because when you love someone who is damaged you have to learn when to stir the kettle of crazy and when to let it boil. She always fought the big battles with him and conceded the ones she felt ok with compromising. Is it ideal? Nope. Is there a thread of honesty? Yes. But most importantly it’s all fiction.

    As to Jax as a character. I have some personal experience with men like him. It is also a choice. You know going in faithfulness is difficult at best because of the power the wield. I think Charlie Hunnam said it best in an interview that men like Jax are usually gentlemen. They understand that their decisions often carry the weight if life or death and so they are careful with their actions.

    I took that to mean they are gentlemen with those they love and their families. I’m sure I’m in the minority, but I understand Tara’s decisions to stay and possibly leave and the stress of loving someone so dangerous. But rest assured that men like Jax who choose to have families can’t be that person without consent and support. Family is what grounds them. If that goes then the gloves come off and the behavior is multiplied.

  10. Thank you Danielle. I’m glad with your post. You summed what I think about 50SoG. Love CG and love Jax Teller, but in end both are fictional.
    I also started watching SOA because Charlie Hunnam was cast as Christian.

    And I saw Undeclared too, I loved that show, Floyd is awesome !! Now, I’m big fan of Charlie, and can’t wait to see him as CG.

    PS.: The film “Frankie Go Boom” is hilarious, mainly knowing SoA. I laugh so hard seeing Ron Perlman as a transsex flirting with Frankie (Charlie). The whole movie is great. It’s priceless to see “Jax” as pillion ride of a scooter.

  11. I agree with Kona mostly. I am a little disturbed that SoA sometimes attempts to make the Reaper crew look not so bad by making everyone around them look worse but overall, it is very obvious that the excuses they make to themselves for their behavior are never quite convincing enough and their crimes and their karma always come back to haunt them. I was furious with my fifteen year old daughter when she secretly borrowed the 50SoG trilogy from someone and read it, not because of the sex scenes, I told her that I could direct her to lots of healthy erotica if that’s what she wanted. I was upset because Fifty Shades is a fantasy of surrendering control for middle aged women who have to work hard, make lots of decisions, run families and companies and organizations, but who would never really take Christian’s crap for twelve seconds. It is NOT a book that an impressionable young woman should be using to form her ideas about healthy sexual relationships. Let’s not even discuss how poorly written it is, I gave up about the time I felt like a sixth grader was reading porn to me.

    As I suspected, she romanticised the abuse Ana suffered by using the “broken people” excuse. All abusers are broken, that doesn’t mean that you can, or should, let them abuse you until they’re put back together again. It doesn’t work that way. Jax, for all of his many, many faults, is presented as a felon who is going to destroy himself, his kids and his wife’s lifetime of hard work by being Jax and she knows it and he knows it. How they try to get themselves out of the hack job they’ve made of their lives is part of the story. Christian is just a sick SOB who has convinced an unworldly girl that intimidation and manipulation are offshoots of love because, hey, he’s broken. He’s doing the best he can. At least Jax, as much of a menace as he is to everyone else, tries in his jacked up way to protect people he loves.

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