My first personal blog post of 2013, and this one will be a doozy! So I recently read ’50 Shades of Grey’ by author E.L.James and I have a fair bit to say about it. I don’t know about any of you ladies (or men) who have read it and disliked it but I am really interested in hearing your opinions.
Before I read the book, I was told the story started out as a blog by E.L.James in an attempt to create an adult sexy version of the ‘Twilight’ saga. Knowing this in the back of my mind I could easily see the parallels when I started turning the pages on my e-book. The language in both the Twilight and Grey book were very teenage-y and after a while did my head in. Oh My…
But that wasn’t my biggest problem. My problem came about when my stomach turned in knots after every reading session of the book. I soon realized why. As a young woman who has had her share of relationships, crushes, let-downs and heartbreaks it makes reading a book like this just too weird and uncomfortable. It also made me feel for the Anastasia Steele’s out there who are young, desperate to be swept of their feet by a Prince Charming, but somehow get themselves into a destructive negative situation with a man.
Now, I have never myself experienced the whole S&M domination thing and soon realized my own prudish conceptions toward it, but it was the underlying relational struggles of this book that, essentially, broke my heart.
The story of a 21 year old nervous bumbling college grad Anastasia Steele falling for 27 year old billionaire sex-crazed tycoon Christian Grey was fraught with far too many scenarios where I found myself thinking what an awful example of relationships, courting, men and women it was. Christian grey is a dark mysterious business man who pays for everything for Anastasia, and wants her to sign a 3 month contract so she can exclusively be his submissive sex slave and board in a room at his mansion every weekend, purely for his sexual disposal. While he is careful to point out to Anastasia he will never physically hurt her, it’s the emotional and psychological damage it does to miss Steele which made me balk.
She is the kind of girl that falls in love with a very handsome rich young man. He shows interest in her and she mistakenly thinks he wants to be her boyfriend. But he does also point out he is not a “hearts and flowers” type of guy.
Toward the end she realizes her mistake in thinking if she gives him everything he wants (while trying to figure out his messed up childhood and background) he will then give her the love and romance she is looking for. Wrong!
While I know this is purely a work of fiction, it is a very influential piece of modern literature and will continue to be for a few years at least because the novels are being turned into feature films.
The media in 2012 kept focusing on the fact that many middle-aged women, young mothers and married couples attributed the book to improving their sex lives and relationships in general. Barbara Walters named author E.L James on her 2012 Most Fascinating People list purely because of the book’s viral success.
That’s all well and great. But what about the young women out there who are still struggling with their own identities and venturing into the relationship world looking to a now cultural staple like this for some guidance? I find a book like this so damaging to the self-esteem of a girl. There were times when I would be reading Anastasia’s pain on the pages and feel for her.
I have felt the sting of heartbreak and it’s not the type of ideal anyone woman should want to have. The fact that this Christian Grey uses language like “I want to own you” and “you are mine Anastasia” is frankly disgusting, controlling and downright creepy. I have a close friend who has unfortunately been in a few abusive relationships and I know she feels the same. But you don’t have to have gone through this to be turned off by this book.
Good on the author for her quick success and fame, but at what cost? I strongly feel she is alienating a generation of women who are searching for something real in life. We are the generation of girls who don’t want to settle for second best in relationships and many organizations exist to nurture empowering qualities in young women. 50 Shades of Grey seems to unravel all that hard work in a page-turning frenzy.
There were many times while reading the book I found myself getting angry at Christian Grey for being so pompous, arrogant, controlling and in some cases mean. I wanted to punch him in the nuts, hard. It made me think of all the girls and women out there who are possibly right now in an abusive relationship of some sort and upon reading this somehow romanticize the notion of a submissive role which is not to their benefit.
I believe submission should only ever be entertained where there is love and respect. It’s not about giving up who you are just to please the other person. It’s a mutual understanding of meeting the other person’s needs in a selfless way, knowing they are doing the same for you. Give and take. Not take, control, dominate, trample and abuse.
The all-t00-perfect way this Shades story played out made me even more angry knowing that this is not real life. Repeat after me, this is not real life. men who want to trap you into some sort of exclusive submissive relationship do not respect you, they will never love you, they will possibly never even like you as a person. They are just sick, creepy individuals who haven’t got the right psychological help yet and don’t place any value on you as a human being.
Do these traits sound familiar? Do the words ‘rape’ or ‘against my own will’ come to mind? Reading 50 Shades just before the horrific story of the Indian girl raped in New Delhi last month actually made me a little depressed. On one hand the world is in an uproar about an awful crime of a sexual nature, yet we celebrate a book like this and overlook the dangerous, damaging messages it holds over its readers. It is well known there are links between the sexual messages the media constantly puts out (no pun intended!) and domestic violence.
The UK-based End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) has repeatedly highlighted the sexualization of women in the media and popular culture as a ‘conducive context’ for violence against women. There is a point in the novel where Christian spanks Anastasia so hard that she starts to cry and that is the turning point for her. She realizes in an instant this is not what she wants in a man, and promptly ends their bizarre relationship/agreement. The only part of the book that actually made me smile.
If I had kids, especially daughters, I would do my best to shield them from ever knowing about the book or getting their hands on a copy. Mothers I urge you to do the same if you value yours and your daughter’s future. if you have any hope of them one day being in a healthy, committed, respectful, loving, caring relationship, stay away from 50 Shades of Grey.
Ladies, men who want to control you are NOT attractive. Don’t buy into the sexualized hype of this book. You are made to live your life to the best of your abilities, pursue your passions and discover your true beauty. Settling for second best just because it is in front of you and you don’t have any better offers right now is not acceptable. Please tell yourself this daily.
If you are single, embrace it and focus on your life and your goals. If you are in a relationship build and nurture it with admirable qualities you would want the other person to shower upon you.
If you have any thoughts or opinions you would like to share please comment below, whether they are for or against my views.