Guest Post: In defence of 50 Shades of Grey
(I’ve been ragging pretty hard on the Fifty Shades trilogy and related phenomenon. At more than a few social events for kinky people, I’ve gone on rants about my opinion of it to anyone who will listen, and a few who won’t. One friend called me on this and made a spirited defence of the series. I asked her if she wanted to do a guest post on the subject, and she obliged.)
So being a kinky person myself, enjoying and learning in my own journey of BDSM, I of course heard all kinds of negative comments about the 50 Shades books. I heard so much negativity in fact that I had no intention of reading the books. A friend of mine though had bought the books and so I decided to borrow at least the first one and see what I thought.
Truthfully…do you want to hear my honest opinion? I loved the first book so much that I couldn’t put it down and was up late one night (at least) trying to finish it. And I loved the first book so much that I couldn’t wait to borrow the other two from my friend and instead went out and bought the trilogy for myself.
I have never looked at literature for my enjoyment based on how well it is written, and that’s a pretty subjective thing anyways. What you think is well written is most likely not going to be what I think is well written. Our individual ideas of that may come from a variety of knowledge and experiences around literature. I look at books the same way I do movies…was I entertained? Did I enjoy the experience (reading or watching)? Did I come away from the experience feeling good, or even just feeling something?
So, about the books. The reason why I want to defend them is because I think people are focusing on only the negative about the story, and/or the subjective quality of the writing itself. Yes, to some it could imply that anyone involved in BDSM has issues stemming from childhood (abuse or otherwise). Thinking logically and from personal experience, many people do have childhood issues that influence what they do or not in their lives, not just whether then get involved in BDSM either. Many people in the BDSM scene do have issues that may or may not have had a part in drawing them to it. Does that matter? For me, it doesn’t. I had one partner who wanted to explore my childhood with me to figure out if my submissiveness and desire for pain with sex etc. came from something in my childhood. I just don’t care if there is a connection. And I think that worrying about what “vanilla” people think about that idea in the 50 Shades books is a waste of my time. If any of those people get more involved in BDSM they will soon find out that is not what BDSM is all about or where all people are coming from. Those who never delve deeper into BDSM don’t matter as they have no impact on my or your life. We can’t change what people think about BDSM unless they are willing to learn. Those that are willing to learn will come into the lifestyle and do so. Yes, I realize we have had a huge influx of people (especially horny men) joining websites like FetLife thinking that all women are submissive and all men are dominant but those types have been on the websites long before 50 Shades came out. There are just more of them lately. When they find that it’s not what it’s all about, they’ll either stay and learn or leave realizing that it is not a kinky free sex world. For those that stay, then education begins and their world expands just like ours does from having them there to learn from us.
50 Shades was written as fantasy fiction. It isn’t meant to be real or truthful. It isn’t meant to be accurate. My understanding is it wasn’t even meant to be a book, never mind 3 of them. It was written as fan fiction and just blew up from there. You can’t blame the author for running with it. She wants to make money from her writing just as much as the next writer. She has not created any wrong or negative thoughts about BDSM that were not already there with the uninformed.
She wrote books that appeal to a particular section of the fiction market. And she nailed it for them. Women looking for a little distraction from everyday life, a little fantasy from boring husbands or boyfriends, some hot sex scenes to use for masturbation fodder, the prince on a white horse (or boat or car or helicopter) to rescue the poor damsel. These women are not looking for reality, they have enough of that. They just want some fluff, something light to cleanse the pallet in between dealing with the heavier things in their lives. Some of them will also bring it up to their significant others and liven up their real sex lives. What’s wrong with that? Aren’t we all entitled to some fantasy, to some new ideas, to a chance to explore and grow?
As for what goes on in the “real” BDSM world…please don’t tell me that there are no people like Christian, no people like Ana. I have met people with very similar personalities and ways of living their BDSM lifestyle. I have seen postings and received messages from men who are as arrogant and demanding and entitled acting as Christian! I have met people like Ana who are lost and horrified, yet intrigued and wanting what BDSM is making them feel deep inside! I have also met people who think BDSM is an excuse to be able to get away with abuse. I have met people who think they are only worthy of abuse. Do we try to deny that those types of people are common in the lifestyle? I hope not! I have also, of course met many people who have wonderful, honest, loving, healthy BDSM relationships (healthy again being a subjective word in this case).
I think criticizing these books is coming from (at least for some people) maybe seeing a little part of themselves in the main characters, or in someone they know. I have noticed that many people in the kinky world are very defensive about anyone outside of the kinky world knowing anything about it, especially if that information could in any way be seen as negative. We are supposed to be a group of people that are more open to differences, more accepting of what each of us enjoy, less judgmental, and yet we fear being judged by others. Why? Does it matter what people who we will never meet think of what we do? Does it matter that those who are drawn to BDSM through this book may or may not change their ideas about kink if they come to sites like FetLife? Does it matter if they run away thinking BDSM is wrong and tell their friends…again who we will never meet?
I live my life for me, and the only people’s opinions I care about are those that I’m very very close to, and even then their opinion only matters to a certain extent. Yes realistically sometimes a strangers opinion can upset me, but I’ve learned to let it go and not dwell on it like I would have in the past. Certainly the opinions of people I will never meet don’t matter. Perhaps that’s a bit of a tangent away from the topic of this writing, but I think everything I’ve said is important for people to remember and consider when they read, think about or comment on these books.
Dear Guest- writer,
you might be right with a few of your points. It shouldn’t matter to you (or anybody in the Scene) what strangers think about kink.
It disturbs me, that Ana is telling us all the time how wrong and disturbing BDSM is and the conclusion is that every person involved is somehow crazy, disturbed and mentally sick.
But it doesn’t aggravate me as much as the other issues I have with these so- called books.
First of all, it is clearly plagiarism. The characters are really completely like Stephanie Meyers characters. The only difference is that it’s AU and the names were changed before publishing.
You could say it doesn’t matter because Meyer doesn’t care about it and doesn’t sue and maybe you’re right and all is fine. NOT.
Because EL James has not only the guts to sell others work as her own and earn herself a golden ass. She also has her lawyer sue people doing big FSoG Partys, she wants to sue a person who wrote a FSoG Fan Fiction and it will be published (that alone makes me want to vomit more than I could eat).
Second, fantasys about abuse and playscenes involving abuse are perfectly fine with me. But mind you, the biggest part of FSoG fans are not into any kink and the abuse fantasy isn’t there kettle of fish.
They enjoy ChEdwards abuse of Ana because it shows affection.
This is wrong on so many freaking levels! I had a cousin whose marriage was an abusive relationship from day one.
I will not share any details because this isn’t my story and my cousin died in 2000 (not because of the abuse, just saying).
You might understand why I am so furious about this special part of FSoG.
It really tells young woman that it is okay for your lover to stalk you, override your decisions and options and so on.
And that is not right.
It’s the same perverted idea which was supported in Twilight.
(And why don’t these teens get it, that Twilight supports necrophilia as well? But that’s another story.)
Third: FSoG supports the idea that you can change a man if you just love him enough. That’s bullshit. Only the person themselve can change themselve if he/she is willing to do it.
For example: when my husband and I met he was very hot- tempered. I’ve never tried to change him. I just always tried to calm him with reason when it was on the edge of going to far.
Within one year of our relationship he changed and became more balanced. But that was his own doing. He WANTED to change so HE did.
I didn’t do anything but be there for him.
There are a few more issues I have with this crap (like the inner goddess and that EL doesn’t get the concept of subconscious) but that would take hours and this should be my comment, not a novella.
Only one more thing: the writing is horrible. I wrote in a comment on another blog that even a fifthgrader’s essay about his summer vacancy is better written than this and that’s still my opinion.
That this sh** was published like that is an insult to writers who put real effort in plot, character development and research to write something for our entertainment.
I guess I should finish this comment, which really turned into another rant of mine.
I am sorry for ranting but FSoG really infuriates me.
I agree with you; Fifty Shades is just a bad book in a myriad of ways. Maybe it has a silver lining but all I can see is the big black cloud.