Fifty Shades of Grey, where do I even begin? What can I say that hasn’t already been said? I guess I’ll start simply: No, I did not like it, and if you’re someone who knows me, this is not news. After people I know found out I was reading it, I was bombarded with texts, phone calls, tweets and the like saying “OMG, how is it?” And as they quickly discovered, this was the wrong thing to ask, as my response started with “FIRST of all…” Now, why is this a book you should not waste your time on?
First of all, the writing is atrocious. And when I say atrocious, I mean E.L. James makes Stephanie Meyer read like Shakespeare. I wish I were joking. The woman has clearly never heard of antonyms in her life. Every time our alleged “hero” Christian Grey speaks, it is growled, commanded or murmured. Also, every time our narrator, Anastasia Steele (I wish I were making that up), is in any sort of contact with Christian Grey, her “breath hitches.” I could go on, but this column has a word limit.
Not only is the writing awful, but making these characters definable is a problem for James as well. Christian Grey is a commanding, private man who just wants to make Ana submit to him. That’s all this billionaire Adonis wants, you guys, to make this virgin submit to him. He has no interest in love or anything resembling it; he just wants her physically. Our narrator, Ana, on the other hand, is a klutzy College Grad who’s just trying to live her life and be successful, you know? She has no real hobbies outside of reading Brit Lit. That’s it. I couldn’t tell you too much about her life pre-Grey.
She also has this bizarre thing where she says “Holy Crap!” to everything, and yet also tends to curse like a sailor and turns out to be a mild nymphomaniac. A bit contradictory, no? She also has her subconscious and her “inner goddess,” who I envision as cartoons akin to Lizzie Maguire’s subconscious. It works, believe me. Especially when her Inner Goddess does cartwheels when Grey makes her breath hitch. Oy.
A lot of the “hype” surrounding this series (I only read the first book) is the “eroticism” and “softcore” nature of the sex scenes. Ha. Hahaha. Hahahahaha. Let me tell you something, it is not “softcore” if you are reading about a girl finding it “erotic” when, after her virginity is taken, her male companion puts his thumb in her “sex” (as she likes to call her vagina) AND THEN MAKES HER SUCK IT SO SHE CAN TASTE THE BLOOD. If it is, then you clearly have some issues you need sorted as soon as humanly possible. Yes reader, that happens. And yes, it scarred me.
The thing about the sex scenes in Fifty Shades is that it’s like watching a porn film. You just want to fast forward to the good stuff. The problem with the good stuff, though, is that you’re all about it until a takes a turn. When their relationship begins to enter BDSM territory, Ana is a little weary of how much it turns her on, and then afterwards she’s left in tears. She is not a sexual person, and Grey is the first man she’s been with. I’m all for trying new things, but since it’s all she knows it makes me, as a reader, feel off about it.
I should clarify, I am all for peoples’ kinks in the bedroom. If BDSM gets you and your partner off, by all means, go for it. I know a lot of women who are completely into being dominated in the bedroom, but they usually aren’t so submissive outside of it, unlike Ana. She stands up for herself on occasion, but she is so determined to please Grey that it makes their arrangement turn her into prey. Which, as a woman, I am not okay with.
I don’t understand the women that find the character of Christian Grey to be this “ideal man.” Why? The only redeeming factors I find in him as a human being relate to his attempt to give Ana the “more” she is looking for out of their “relationship.” But anytime James tries to make him seem redeemable, she just talks about how attractive and wealthy he is. I’m sorry, but I need more out of a partner than that. I also require a partner that will respect my boundaries, be open and make me laugh by being silly. You’re not going to get that from a Christian Grey, ladies.
And to tout this as Twilight fanfic (in origin) raises concerns for me as well. The girls that read those books are going to hear about Fifty Shades and the forbidden fruit that it presents (because let’s face it, controversy sells) and are going to snag their mothers’ copies. This concerns me, because I don’t want the girls that read it to think that if they are just submissive, they too will find a rich, handsome dude. That’s not okay, because it makes the relationship between Bella and Edward look healthy by comparison.
Grey doesn’t do what he does for Ana out of love. He does it because he has a desire to make her submit and come into his sexual world. Sure, Ana (somewhat) stands up for herself at the end, but then is devastated by the idea of Grey no longer being in her world. It’s hard to argue that this is the kind of tale that becomes a legendary one of love. It is purely based on lust. Ana goes to him because she finds him attractive and mysterious. She still sticks with him after seeing his “Red Room of Pain.” I mean, honestly, is this the kind of thing any woman should be desiring?
I understand that women are devouring these novels because it’s a fantasy and, essentially, porn. I just can’t bear the thought of women desiring a man like Christian Grey in real life, or desiring to be anything similar to Ana. It makes me nauseous to think that there are people out there wanting to be degraded like that in a real world context, regardless of whatever gets you off in the bedroom. Just save yourself the trouble and don’t do it. I’m glad Florida banned it. I know I wish I would have thought twice about going down this road. But I have. I survived. And now I’d like to save you.