**disclaimer: i have NOT read this book, so every thought and opinion you are about to read has come from the gathering of information from various sources, including the titillating coffee-convos of middle-aged women i have been unfortunate enough to overhear. FURTHERMORE, my purpose is not to offend anyone who has read and possibly enjoyed this book. so, if that happens - i am sorry.
when i first heard of fifty shades of grey, i had a really strong feeling that this book would be terrible. for a couple of valid reasons, i think: one) it was the product of freaking twilight fanfiction, and two) just because a book is given a pretty cover instead of fabio (which, actually, might be pretty to some people) doesn't make erotic-romance magically good writing.
this was just a feeling, though.
i figured it would be one of those books i hear about a couple times, endure kathie lee gifford and hoda giggling about it over their wine glasses, and then we'd all move on.
but then all of a sudden every woman everywhere was reading this book including neighbors and friends and moms of friends and it was on the new york times bestseller list and my facebook newsfeed was full of statuses about it and i was like whaaaaa? so. wanting to keep and open mind and give this book the benefit of the doubt, i was thinking maybe, perhaps, it must be eloquently written, and have profound character development, and tell a unique and captivating story. with, you know, lots of hot sex and stuff. but the thing is, you guys - it isn't any of those things (except there actually is a lot of sex, duh). i know this because i have read excerpts and quotes from the book, and every posting from bad books, good times, a blog that sufficiently summarizes (and mercilessly tears apart) fifty shades. now, although it may seem my conclusion has been shaped by biased sources, i can assure you that the material straight from the book alone has been enough evidence for me to form my opinion.
and my opinion is this: fifty shades of grey is perhaps the worst piece of writing i have ever come across. dramatic, i know. but believe me, i love books and have read a lot of them. some good, some bad. i read twilight, guys. and yeah, that was bad. and everything i disliked about it has been expanded on tenfold in fifty shades. let me break down what i mean by that.
but first, i think i should make it clear that i am not hating on fifty shades because it is of the erotic genre. i am not sitting here telling you to stay away from the devil's book, or whatever. because really, although it's not my thing, whatever you're into is your business. in fact, i will say this - i think that society's perspective on women's sexuality really needs to change. we talk about men and sex and men wanting and thinking about and having sex, but it is so taboo for women. society shames women. unless it is in cosmo or something. but even then, it's such stupid stuff. no, what i mean is that ever since this book came out, half the publicity has been about the actual book, and the other half has been about the flurry that all the women everywhere are in and how moms all over the place are all hot and bothered and how exciting, and oooh how scandalous! really? really, that is such a shocker? is this pleasantville we are living in? well, i guess it is alright as long as she can still get dinner on the table by the time hubby gets home!
anyhow. back to when i said. "fifty shades of grey is perhaps the worst piece of writing i have ever come across." when i say that, i am referring to the language, grammar, structure, the content, and the messages in this book. good grief, the messages in this book, folks. i will keep my comments regarding the language/grammar/structure to a minimum because neither you or i have an entire day to devote to the issue, and also, we have bigger, more important problems to address. i will say this though: i do not understand how this book was published. this is completely unfair to all the brilliantly talented thirteen year olds of the world, but e l james writes like a thirteen year old. and yes, i realize how gross that sentence is, considering the content of the book. but what i mean is, she is a horrible writer. i can say that with confidence."my inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping its hands like a five year old!" (literal quote from the book).
but now i am going to get to what the real problem with this book is. in all seriousness. for those of you who are not quite sure what the premise of the book is (besides all the sex, duh), here you go: the main character is anastasia steele; a young, beautiful girl (surprise) who meets christian grey - handsome, charming, rich (surprised again). sparks fly, yada yada. they get all sexually involved and this is what the dynamic is: christian is the dominant and controlling man, while frail ana is the submissive, manipulated woman. sexy, right? sex act after sex act is played out in the pages and each one is absolutely borderline sexual assault, if not totally, flat out assault. and the women reading this are supposed to be turned on - this is, apparently, arousing. the character of christian, more than once, uses language that is domineering and demeaning - he tells ana that she belongs to him and decides if and when she should be "punished" (in a sexy, sexy way, of course - but only for his own pleasure). christian grey, we should know, is a complex man with a dark, twisted soul - the classic bad boy that surely the right girl can "fix"! which is where we find ana, altruistic creature that she is. this concept on its own is nothing new - we recognize it as fictional and magical and know it is not real life. that's why we read fiction, including this book, right? to escape reality. but do we really know where the line is drawn? i mean, i read harry potter and it is pretty safe, because as much as i whole-heartedly wish that my hogwarts acceptance letter is just late in getting to me, i have faced the reality that it isn't coming. so it's not really too dangerous for me to get involved with the story, because i have a healthy, truthful perspective. but - i know women who have fallen into the care-giver trap over and over and over again. as a generally compassionate sex, many women can't help but be drawn to the mysterious, brooding guy because, well, we can help them! we are special. and that is a dangerous message we are believing. and stupid.
this book is being sold for a reason, and that reason is no secret; it isn't called "mommy porn" (excuse me while i vomit at that phrase) or "house-wife erotica" for nothing. women are reading this because they have a sex-drive just as much as any man. and, like men, some women are wanting more excitement, more pleasure. what better and easier way to get that than by purchasing and reading a now socially acceptable book? i mean, the word "pornography" is pretty intense and causes raised eyebrows in family circles. but erotic "novel" - that is much more accessible.
this book, although written by a woman, is just serving to set us back years in feminism. seriously, the last time it was socially acceptable to spank a woman as punishment was the 50s, y'all (yes, that is also really in the book).
i know that it is really easy to get carried away by the written word. i know the joy in leaving reality for a bit and exploring a fantasy world. but there are so many other options. and there are so many other ways to realize you are special and desirable. you don't need poorly written, demeaning text to make you feel a certain way. it's cheap. and you, dear women, are not.
all vintage ads via