‘If it stops one woman getting beaten up or one woman raped or staying in a relationship with someone who is treating her badly, then it’s worth being ridiculed’ – Sunderland 50 Shades of Grey campaigner

Clare Phillipson is leading a campaign against the Fifty Shades of Grey series of books which she says could encourage abuse.
Clare Phillipson is leading a campaign against the Fifty Shades of Grey series of books which she says could encourage abuse.
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AS tortuous as the book itself, is the argument embroiling the binning of Fifty Shades of Grey, a campaign unleashed by Clare Phillipson, boss of Wearside Women In Need.

I can see where Clare is coming from and as laudable as her motives are, I feel certain that she is setting herself up for ridicule in urging people to bin their books and make a stance against the trilogy, which she claims should be banned from bookshelves because it incites violence towards women.

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Ridicule she can cope with but not what she believes is “absolutely disgusting. It normalises abuse, degrades women and encourages sexual violence.”

And what’s worrying Clare is this: “It’s giving the message to women experiencing domestic violence that this is a love story. It’s a story of domestic violence. Christian Grey is an abusive man who manipulates a much younger woman and alters her reality.”

What she sees as “painful, sexual torture,” millions have not. What has so appalled Clare, is that she she sees this as a charter for abusive men. And worryingly, that young men and women will think this the norm.

That too holds no water with so many I have spoken to who have read the book. Clare reckons it has set the cause of women and domestic violence back 20 years.

And that’s a chilling thought. If susceptible, submissive women take on board that they have to allow a man to control them and be totally submissive then as Clare says “I fear for the amount of harm, violence and death they are going to experience. And I certainly fear for young women.”

That’s terrifying to contemplate. And that’s why I am all for Clare’s campaign, although I reckon the majority will just write it off and like the book, laugh it off.

People who are not as close as she is to how many men control women and have them as their victims, will be untouched by her concerns.

While we can’t control what people read, nor can we legislate what couples do in the bedroom.

And while this is consensual sex, albeit with whips and bondage, she the submissive and he the dominant, there is no beating her bloody or everyone I know who has a copy would have already binned it.

And EL James would no more have had the fastest selling book of all time on her hands but would have been pilloried for promoting violence towards women. Tricky one, when in this erotic fantasy a contract has been drawn where she agrees to his sexual predelictions on condition that when she says stop, he will stop immediately.

There is no getting away from it that this is a book of control of a woman by a man.

Plenty have rightly written it off as trash, plenty more have been turned on by it with sales of erotic literature and porn mags up 130 per cent in July and Anne Summers basking in the buying bonanza for sex toys which have doubled in the first two weeks of July.

The sex shop chain sold out of the book six times in two weeks and reported sales of crops and whips rising by 15 per cent, blindfolds by 60 per cent and bondage ties by 35 per cent. That’s one side. But there’s another very dangerous one which is no laughing matter and hasn’t been highlighted until now and only thanks to Clare.

She is absolutely right to have concerns for those, however small a minority, who may believe that they too have to submit to a man who wants to flog or whip her with her hands tied together.

That is a very real worry and why Clare is prepared to risk any ridicule for taking this stance.

As she told me: “My fear is that they will read it and think ‘what am I complaining about. Millions of other women want a Christian Grey in their life. What’s the matter with me that I don’t want him? ”

Then there’s the danger of those who encounter a man with fetishes taken from the pages of Fifty Shades, who can’t see that they are worth more than being manacled and whipped.

Those who aren’t in a violent relationship may just write Clare’s fears off completely. I don’t. But it is also dangerous ground she is stepping on to by urging people to bin their books and any WWIN collect will set fire to on November 5, when the charity will hold an alternative bonfire in protest against the content.

The burning of any book is an iconic image and would I reckon do more to promote it than deter people from buying the trio of erotic books.

I have no doubt that some men and women have told Clare how distressed they are by what’s written. Others have been confused, many enraged and some bewildered.

“Some women come away thinking ‘is this how I should be behaving in the bedroom’ and ‘is there something wrong with me because I’m not and that’s not right,’ says Clare who adds: “Passages in it are about women submitting to men, obeying their orders and violence being used in a sexual and erotic manner, it’s disgusting and sends out the wrong message.”

It isn’t a love story. It is about someone who is comfortable with a man having total control. But Christian’s Grey has a woman who agrees to him showing her sexual practices she would most probably have never have known.

And therein lies the argument whether she is a victim, he an abuser or both simply wanting the same thing. That doesn’t make it right for anyone else. And what couples choose to do in the bedroom is their affair. And maybe it is hotting up the temperature in homes all over Wearside.

What has fired Clare to launch this Fifty Shades of Abuse campaign is her disgust, outrage and fears for the vulnerable.

And if that speaking out holds her up to ridicule, then it is naught to her. Her shoulders are broad enough and as she stressed to me: “If it stops one woman getting beaten up or one woman raped or staying in a relationship with someone who is treating her badly then it’s worth being ridiculed.”

I couldn’t agree more


SHAMEFUL to see two drunken women – one 27 and her aunt, 42 – in charge of a five-year-old boy, setting about a woman with a dog who had taken the younger one to task for throwing something which nearly hit her pet.

Stacey Guiheen, of Laura Street, may have as she told Sunderland Magistrates this week, downed “ a couple of bottles of vodka” when both she and her her aunt, Michelle Guiheen of Polsworth Square, Plains Farm, admitted assault and being drunk in charge of a child.

These two aren’t capable of looking after themselves, never mind a child. The one good thing to hopefully come out of this disgusting episode, is it is only right and proper that a thorough report is to be provided on Stacey Guiheen by the Probabtion Service.

It is symptomatic of society that you can be rolling drunk in daylight and expose a child to this kind of vicious behaviour that drives a terrified woman, Allison Miller, to take refuge in a fish and chip shop in Allendale Road for fear of what may happen to her.

And even so, Stacey Guiheen, fighting drunk, followed her in, punched this woman to the ground, then both she and her aunt laid into her kicking her to the ground. Some role models for a boy who CCTV showed ending up also getting involved in the melee.

Both Guiheens claimed they were too drunk to remember what they had done and Michelle Guiheen also admitted assaulting a police officer, after she kicked out while being arrested.

They were caught but it begs the question how many are never brought to justice and how common is this kind of anti-social behaviour on the streets of Sunderland?

Drink is always at the root and a convenient excuse. But it’s not just drink to blame but the background of people, devoid of moral values and respect for themselves and others that they spend their lives often drunk or sober, spoiling for a fight. And that’s why so many daren’t even say a word or even look in their direction, lest they end up laid out by people with no moral compass who are yellow through and through.

Do they feel sorry? Only for themselves, when as in this case, they were caught red-handed.


I’D have run a mile if I’d seen any one of these characters in daylight, never mind on a dark night.

 These mug shots of Tyneside’s 1930s criminal fraternity who terrorised the area thieving, safe-breaking, robbing and embezzling, have just come to light.

Mind, they knew how to turn themselves out properly – a better dressed class of criminal than today’s rogues in their hoodies and baseball caps.

Take the picture of Buffalo Bill aka Archibold John William, who, along with the others rogues, has just surfaced after decades, hidden in a junk shop and now discovered by chance.

In his trilby, he would break a window at the rear of premises and break into a public house in the afternoon.

Another, James Isadore Epstine, described in what is thought to be a police identification book, had a peculiarity of a squint – maybe from working as a billiard marker when he wasn’t thieving. Another “bad character.”

Heart, clasped hands, True Love, Evelyn were the distinguishing marks on James Casey’s right forearm, the tattooed gardener who specialised in various classes of larceny.

Scar-faced convict, James Hargreaves Jones was a beggar and a housebreaker and it was fascinating to see them and especially the way they were described.

All as intriguing as the crimes they committed.


LET the full weight of the law fall on the sick, vile trolls who posted on Facebook disgusting messages to the devastated and grieving parents of Dylan Cecil, the four-year-old, lost at sea after disappearing from Burnham-on-Sea on Sunday evening.

By pretending to be the missing child, they subjected this traumatised couple, grief etched in their faces after returning to the spot where he vanished and where they both jumped in to save him, to the unimaginable horror of a ghoulish Facebook page creating a profile in Dylan’s name with the message: “To my mum, my daddy and sisters and sea side grandparents I love you all am in heaven waiting on you all. I’ll be looking down on you. x SENT FROM THE RAINBOW AND FLOWERS AND SUNSHINE IN HEAVEN...X.”

How terrible to have to cope with that two days after he vanished. What kind of people would inflict such anguish on heartbroken parents in the midst of such suffering?

They are beyond the pale. And I hope they are found and given the punishment they deserve. What minds these faceless trolls must have to do such to people in pain and inflict more agony. How flawed they are to seize on tragedy and say things online they would never say to a person’s face.

Does the condemnation of this devastated mother even touch them? I doubt it while they are invisible.

There were two posts in Dylan’s name, the first saying: “ This is a memory page of Dylan that sadly lost his life, lets show the family we’re thinking of them and sending our love. x.”

These aren’t pranksters but sick individuals. Thank God for all the good people who have shown their support for this couple whose son fell over the edge of the jetty. While his grandfather John Cecil said the family continued to be overwhelmed by the messages of support that were coming, Dylan’s mother had posted on Facebook: “ How low can people be? I tried saving my son and a page (is) set up speaking like they are him. My heart and soul are torn apart. I’m distraught he is still missing at sea, I aint slept at all and to find someone pretending to be my son has destroyed me even more.” Truly terrible.