(*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?