A candid tale of 20-something humanness and extended note to self.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Fifty Shades of CALM DOWN, laters baby, & Olympic orgasming...

(*Image sourced from and credited to someecards.com*)

If you're female, or human for that matter, the chances are that you've heard of the Fifty Shades trilogy. The Fifty Shades extravaganza has surpassed Harry Potter as the fastest selling book of all time, and considering it isn't every day that books including explicitly erotic scenes become as widely read on the train as the daily paper, its critical reception was always going to be varied.

Recently, clinical psychologist and author Louise Deacon has voiced her concerns that books like Fifty Shades are encouraging unhealthy fantasies towards dangerous and potentially emotionally abusive men, and a very angry British charity has ordered public burning of the novel, describing it as 'vile' and 'disgusting'. But are these comments fair?! Can the book really be thought of as a glorification of jealousy, possessiveness and unhealthy relationships? Is it so awful that we need to burn it?

I do not for a second doubt the seriousness of psychologically/physically abusive relationships as an issue in modern society. Domestic abuse is an atrocious thing; I fully agree with that. But, as someone who has read, and enjoyed the Fifty Shades trilogy, I think it's ludicrous to assume that these books will negatively impact upon domestic abuse statistics.

In an article featured on the Cosmopolitan magazine website, Louise Deacon discusses the 'dangerous myth' that the books portray; that 'controlling, dangerous men like this can be changed solely by falling in love'. As far as I'm concerned, if we are old enough to be reading about explosive orgasms and excessive spanking, we are old enough to know that no matter how brilliant we are, if a man is a Class A bastard, the chances are that he is still going to be a Class A bastard once he's made his bed beside us. In the real world, I wouldn't touch Christian Grey with a 40ft barge pole. But in an ideal world, well, we'd have him reformed, wouldn't we?! The book just takes a big, shiny, expensive spoon, and feeds us the popular desire that we can take Mr Naughty-Nasty and sprout him a halo. Hurray.

Mr Grey isn't just a one way ticket to riding crops in the 'red room of pain' either. He is utterly and exclusively devoted to Ana. He loves her. He is concerned for her welfare. He feeds her scrambled eggs and bacon, and he dries her hair. Most importantly, when she tells him to stop, he stops.

And while the theme of sadomasochism whips and spanks its way through the chapters, (a fine way to put your nan off of her apple crumble), it's important to remember that Anastasia Steele doesn't let Christian dominate her because she's terrified of him; she lets him because it arouses her. She lets him because her inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves. (Seriously? Does anyone actually have an inner Goddess?)

Ultimately, the book is an exploration of a consensual relationship between two consenting adults, one of whom happens to be a disgustingly rich, ruggedly handsome entrepreneur who pilots his own helicopter and dances like a gliding swan, and the other of whom has an unnatural ability to orgasm more than one hundred times a day. Gold medal at the alternative Olympics? I think so.

Clearly, it's all one big, exciting, harmless story that's about as real as flying pigs at dawn, and clearly, according to the millions of copies it's sold worldwide, as a way of escaping the commute to work/the washing up/a mediocre Thursday, it works. I can vouch for that, though I definitely prefer those Harry Potter folk.

I can't help but think that playing the Christian Grey infuriation game/burning books is all a little bit OTT. So in the words of Mr Grey himself,  'don't get your panties in such a twist...and give me back mine'.


I'm off to stow my twitchy palm. Have you read the trilogy? Do you agree with me, or do you believe that the publication of this book is a bad move for society?



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38 comments

  1. I agree with you completely, I'm sick of hearing bad reviews and people slating it on facebook and such like. I don't think its disgusting at all like some have said, and burning the books is ludacris! It is about time a book like this Made it big in the UK. It helps women feel that its okay to be open with their sexuality and that its okay to try different things. I think the country is so prude and frowns upon sexual exploration for women (not for men, huh!). The book for me was really interesting and I loved the 'love' story behind it too, also the 'shades of fucked up' exploring Christians past-so moving and unfortunate. People that haven't read it but a few lines from a chapter say its 'porn' or 'full of sex scenes' are wrong.
    Good for you for posting this, its good to hear someone thinks alike ! xx
    P.S. Sorry for the lengthy rant comment haha it just drives me bloody insane when people 'judge the book by its cover' harharhar :) x

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    1. Ah thank you! Im glad you enjoyed reading the post and no worries for the lengthy comment- I like people with opinions so it was very interesting to read! Once you get past the excessive spanking and strange bedroom instruments, there is definitely a love story there too, and I enjoyed that!

      Xx

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  2. I won't read the book, for not being interested I must say. But I've been thinking for a long time that women freedom has been the biggest scam men have organized to keep women unfree.

    Nowadays, women are free to do what they want, so they can vote, work, abort, and get their body back. Of course this is good, and I approve ! Who would not ? But at the same time, it seems to me that they had never been so much exploited, especcially sexually exploited, than before.

    You can keep someone in slavery and use him, but it's better to free him, and to obtain his agreement for being used.

    I don't think we reached a true equality, built on a true respect and on a true collaboration between the two genres. In addition, most of feminists don't claim for a true equality. When I was in Quebec (some call it French Canada, but they just speak french, that's all, they are north american french speakers), where feminism is very strong, the unique thing I have observed, is that they have cut their men's balls lol.... Those drink beer and do body building, but they stay in the background, while their women are in front, very dynamic. They are castrated.

    Around me, in France, I see a lot of "free" women, who work, who are divorced, who go from a man to an other, having a bloomed and open sexuality, and so on and blah blah blah, they earn their money well and say "we don't need men, except for sex, and having kids", they are sportive, sexy, and so on and, blah blah blah again, they want to live like in american soaps, but in practice, by acting like this, they don't realize that they just conform themselves to the picture of the sexual object for men, or better said, for a part of men, not all the men.

    Usually, they fall on jerks and find good guys uninteresting. Because good guys are intimidated by hers, they don't know how to do with hers, and loose their maleness, while jerks just want to profit from hers, so those are not intimidated, and are seen like "real men" by these women.

    So some of those free women are just dolls in the hands of some men. And they act like those men. Then I'm not sure they won a real freedom in fact. But they call themselves free.

    It leaves the idea of a fight or an opposition between genres, and not the idea of a sharing and a real collaboration. I deplore it. Have a nice week end :)

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    1. Thanks again for reading this Manu and leaving another long comment! I'm always interested in your thoughts! :)

      Xx

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  3. As someone whose seen (and wrote) a pretty negative review of 50 Shades, it's refreshing to see a more happier outlook on it. I think that anyone who goes down the whole 'this is encouraging people to beat each other' road is taking it far, far too seriously. If they're going to take it THAT seriously that it throws up all sorts of issues about books, films and TV shows worldwide. Soon there'll be nothing we're able to see for fear that it might corrupt us.

    This definitely isn't the reason I didn't like the book - I just found it very unrealistic and quite annoying. But fair play to E.L James, she's done brilliantly from it.

    Great post :) xx

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    1. I read your review, and really enjoyed reading it! From a literary sense, I definitely agree with you. It isn't a piece of literary genius at all.

      I totally agree with you here, it is being taken a tad too far!!

      Xx

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  4. Hi Kathy
    I haven't read 50 Shades and I doubt that I will so I'm not really qualified to comment this has never stopped me in the past lol and won't now.I don't want to see this or any book burned except maybe Bridget Jone's Diary (get off the scales and get a life woman)there is far worse available free on the internet (ahem so my sources tell me)and I don't believe it promotes domestic violence any more than lots of the other literature that's available but you do have to be very careful what you "normalise" and for that reason I don't believe that it has done women any favours either.
    For too long women's sexuality has been considered a "dangerous thing" after all look where it leads all those poor men who need saving from themselves. Women hide it because nice girls don't enjoy or talk about sex so while I applaud anything that puts these outdated notions to rest I feel that 50 Shades only perpetuates the idea that unless a woman's sexuality is controlled by a man or she is given permission to express and enjoy it by a man and somehow has to suffer to achieve this it is wrong and a bad thing.
    If this book starts a wave of books that people feel comfortable reading on trains that show sex and sexuality (especially womens) in a good and positive light with normal ordinary women expressing and enjoying their sexuality in all it's variations not just as defined and controlled by a man then I will believe it has helped free women from the conventions that keep them confined to roles both in fiction and real life in which they depend on men to sweep them off their feet and awaken the savage beast in their virginal breasts.
    I really enjoyed your blog post about the book and the discussion that its opened up.
    Elizabeth (Schultz) xx

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    1. Thank you for reading/commenting Elizabeth! This was a really interesting comment to make!

      I definitely appreciate where you're coming from here; the idea that a woman's sexuality being controlled by a man is the only platform in which a woman should express her sexuality, is a potentially damaging way of thinking. However, I think with Fifty Shades, it's important to remember that everything is consensual. Yes, she experiences pain during their pursuits, but that's because she's made the personal choice to explore that kind of a sexual relationship. From that sense, I don't think it's normalising the idea of a man being in control, more normalising the idea that it's okay to be submissive if that's the kind of thing that floats your boat!

      xXx

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  5. I've not read the books, nor have any inclination to do so. It doesn't bother me that they're available to all but I'm finding it really irritating that everyone keeps banging onnnnn about it.
    But I find a lot of things irritating so I guess it's not all that surprising. Ha x

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    1. Oh dear! In which case I apologise for writing this blog post!! Xx

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  6. You are bang on right! It is ONLY a book and it is fiction. Plus, there is a kind side of Christian Grey.

    I've read first one and now halfway through second one.

    xx
    The Young Bridget Jones

    P.S. I am SO glad to see you back in blog-o-sphere :-)

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  7. Firstly I have to say I have been insanely surprised by the level of publicity this book has received I know it's apparently all 'taboo' and exciting etc etc but Christ it's so badly written ha-ha!

    I completely agree with you though, I'd like to think that at least 99& of the people who pick this up would, you know, remember that it's 'a book' and I'm pretty sure that they wont all run out and try and find their own psychopathic Mr Grey just because it worked for Ana and her inner goddess or whatever!

    Let's face it. Harry Potter got us all talking but you didn't hear too many reports of people throwing themselves at walls in train stations did you? (Scrap that... people totally did that!)

    Fab post! You have an amazing way of writing! Following you now + thanks for your lovely compliment on my blog!

    Sarah
    http://lifeasalittlewallflower.blogspot.co.uk/
    xx

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    1. Haha I love this comment Sarah- thank you! :)


      xXx

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  8. All I have to say is that I totally agree haha xo

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  9. But, but, but I don't agree with the "it's only a book" way of thinking. Books are immensely powerful one doesn't need to look too far to see evidence for that The Bible, The Quran, Mein Kampf to name but a few. Anne Summers reports massive increases in sales of items used in Fifty Shades, people are talking about it, it has the power to make me comment on a blog. I love reading, books have influenced me hugely during the course of my life I know more stuff, I understand more people, I can do more things because of books, I think differently due to some books I've read and I'm never bored in a bus queue.
    What am I trying to say? Fifty Shades is worth discussing and I'm enjoying joining in this debate :-)
    Elizabeth

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    1. Lovely comment again Elizabeth!! I do agree with this. Books are immensely powerful, and can change the way we think, act, and even inspire the things that we do.

      Of course there is a general buzz around this book, mainly because it's full of naughty things that would usually stay on certain kinds of websites! But on a deeper level, I just don't think this is one of those books that will be reminisced about in years to come as something that shaped society or inspired a generation! Xx

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  10. I am probably one of the many women who hasn't read these books, i started but i just could not get into it, maybe something i wrong with me i don't know.

    There's always someone who's going to make something big out of it, probs because there not getting any.

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    1. Haha this comment made me chuckle!! Xx

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  27. I've read it and absolutely agree. people think it's cool to bash 'mainstream' stuff like twilight, fault in our stars and the fifty shades trilogy. and more often than not, these people haven't even read a damn chapter and half the time, they don't even know what they're talking about. especially loved the part where you explained that christian loved ana. THAT is the changing factor. thanks for the refreshing point of view after countless of criticisms from critics that haven't even read the trilogy! much love xx

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