I was going to write about this a lot sooner but I never got around to it, and now that I have, it hardly seems topical anymore. But oh well, its Saturday morning and I feel like writing!
Since I began working for an adult store, I have encountered hundreds of female customers that “JUST LOOOOVE” 50 Shades of Grey. Being extremely intrigued at why people like this series, I always ask them why. The answers usually range from “it’s so raunchy!” to “I wish all guys were like Christian Grey”. Many of them are truly surprised when I mention that the series is actually Twilight fanfic, and many of them get very excited at this news, racing home to re-read the books and picturing Edward and Bella instead of Christian and Ana.
If you haven’t read these books, then good for you – you’re missing nothing. If you have and you enjoyed them, then you may not want to continue reading this post. I read the first one for a book club that I was in for a brief period of time (the choice of book led me to realise that this particular book club was not for me) and being the ridiculous completist that I am, I also read the other two. I might add that these books took me an unusually long period of time to read. I found them difficult to read, in the sense that I could only read so much before becoming extremely bored and agitated. I am usually really good at toughing through even the hardest read, including (but not limited to) The Doors Of Perception and The Silmarillion, so was shocked at myself for having to read these books in drips and drabs.
The writing is nothing short of … unspectacular, repetitive and glib. However people seem to already know that and explain that they read it for the sex. Have people never heard of internet porn literature before? It’s much better and you don’t have to sift through pages of Ana/Bella blushing and biting her lip at a billionaire who ditches his important business meetings to fly halfway across the world to find out why she didn’t immediately reply to a text message. The story sets Christian up to be this *amazing* man, and the female readers all want to be with him. However he is a pathetic piece of shit and nobody seems to realise this – he gets whinier with each book, and is pretty much the most controlling, needy, emo little boy I have ever come across in fiction (or real life).
Here are a few of the issues that I have with this series. Firstly, let’s put in a different context. Imagine if your best friend has started seeing a man – her first ever boyfriend. Instead of being happy all the time, she is often crying, and is no longer able to hang out with you or do the things that you used to do together, like go for beers at the local pub. You find out that she is in a dom/sub relationship, and that he has severe emotional issues. You are fine with the dom/sub part (because there isn’t anything wrong with alternative sexuality), but are worried that he seems quite emotionally unstable. Your friend cannot go anywhere without bodyguards following her, and she is not really allowed to hang out with one of your other lifelong best friends, because he innocently told her he had feelings for her and tried to kiss her once (back when she was single). Finally, you learn that this man is controlling your friend so much that he bought the company that she works for and pulled strings to get her promoted, yet now he is urging her to quit her job because he is wealthy. He has no regard for her goals and aspirations, and interferes with her career constantly even though she has asked him numerous times not to. He treats her like a possession and is altogether quite sexist. It is her first relationship and they decide to get married after only a few weeks of being together.
Would you encourage her to stay with this man?
I sure as hell wouldn’t. So why do women everywhere go crazy for this character? Are all of these women just really that stupid? It doesn’t even matter that they “read it for the sex”. How can you enjoy a sex scene when the characters are so pathetic?
The second issue that I have, is that this series is unbelievably offensive to the BDSM community. The entire notion of Christian’s character is that he is “50 shades of fucked up”, which is why he participates in the Dom lifestyle. Throughout the series, Ana and her friend Kate pity Christian because of his terrible past that renders him a “BDSM sicko”. A large sub-plot is that Ana is trying to find out Christian’s big, terrible secret that has made him this way (he loves yet hates his mother and enjoys “punishing” women that look like his mother). Why does someone have to have mental or emotional problems to enjoy BDSM? This series further perpetuates the stupid prejudice that people who enjoy BDSM are screwed in the head. If you are still reading this post, please don’t allow this prejudice to spread further, there is nothing wrong with having a fetish and it doesn’t make someone a “sicko”.
Lastly, it worries me how many younger females are reading these books – books that promote a silly woman who cannot assert herself with a man. A silly woman that is seemingly so enamoured by this man’s amazingly sexy appearance and his wealth, to the point that she will try to change her sexuality for him. These books further the notion that a woman needs to be protected and looked after by a man, and she is vulnerable and helpless without him. They further the stereotype that women are victims. Furthermore, if a 16 year old virgin reads these books and then loses her virginity, she is going to think that there is something wrong with her, because unlike Ana, she is not going to have 3 orgasms on her first time. She probably won’t even have one. What kinds of awful expectations are these books setting for younger women? Ideas like mind-blowing sex and looks are all that really matters in a relationship? That a guy can treat you like a possession and you will be at his beck-and-call for “sexytime”?
I can’t believe that this series outsold Harry Potter. I can’t BELIEVE that this author has topped the New York Times Bestseller List. It makes me so miserable to think how many amazing authors there are out there that couldn’t even get an agent, let alone published, when this nail-polished shit is on the shelves.
So when hordes of young girls and middle-aged women alike come into my work and giggle on about how much they LOVE 50 Shades of Grey and how they are “all into bondage now” while buying a $14.95 fluffy handcuffs and blindfold set, it takes all my restraint not to scream at them. Instead, I just grit my teeth and smile, and say “you go, girl!” and pretend to endorse their newfound “BDSM lifestyle”. Because nobody even listens to reason anymore. Am I being a judgemental bitch? Yes. Do I really care, though? Absolutely not. Because it makes me so angry to see this series flourishing due to the flocks of idiots that eat this shit up.
Love, Chelle xoxooxoxoxox