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Women who liked 50 Shades of Grey: what is the appeal? Please enlighten me!

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Showing 1-25 of 339 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 22, 2012 10:04:24 PM PDT
M. Costello says:
I am honestly baffled at the number of women who seem to love this book. What is the appeal? Is it just the sex scenes? I'm not prudish, and I don't mind a good sex scene at all, but what upsets me is the unabashed misogynism of the relationship. Why would you want to date a guy who requires that he decides how you dress, what you eat eat, or how you groom yourself (among other things)? In one scene, Christian sets up a Gynecologic appointment for Ana and ensures she is started on birth control. WTF?!?!?! Is she not capable of doing this herself? Are there more sinister implications to this scene where it is okay for a man to decide what we do with our bodies? Oh, and is this all okay because, after all, Christian makes up for his control issues by lavishing her with expensive gifts? How can a 21st century woman not have a problem with this?!?!?! The book seems to be saying that, deep down inside, women are okay with being treated as possessions and don't really need to have control over their own lives/bodies, as long as we are somehow taken care of by a man.

I just really want to know why you liked to book, because I can't think of any reason why it's become the success that it has been.

Posted on Apr 23, 2012 6:32:35 AM PDT
Pamelia A. says:
I'm a little baffled by the question. Are women only allowed to read and enjoy books which explore non-objectionable topics? Is your assumption that women always fantasize themselves into the female protagonists place? (That is actually not the case BTW). Does a romance novel which explores the relationship of two distinct individuals have to stand for every woman's viewpoint? Isn't it possible to read about two characters messed up relationship and enjoy it for the emotional rollercoaster and visceral elements without wishing such a relationship on one's self?
I personally loved the books and don't see that Christian was abusive towards Ana in his attempts to control her. His attempts only exposed his own issues/problems. I'm not surprised others don't agree with me, but we all see things differently -- if you read a lot of the reviews on this book you should be able to see that!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 23, 2012 9:38:31 AM PDT
M. Costello says:
Thanks for the reply, Pamelia. I guess I asked the question because I had such an immediate dislike for the book, and I was truly confused as to why it had achieved the level of success it had. Just looking at the bimodal reviews on Amazon made me think that people either loved or hated this book. Being in the "I hate it"category, I wanted to find out what the other extreme liked about it.

You raised a number of questions/points, so let me tackle them on by one:
1) Are women only allowed to read and enjoy books which explore non-objectionable topics? Oh, of course not. I read whatever I feel like reading, and I expect everyone else does the same. I am not big on censorship. And for the record, I really don't find the BSDM sex aspect of the book objectionable. I thought it was really rather mild, to be honest with you. Even if they were a more intense, who cares? Some people are into being whipped, others aren't. So that wasn't at all what I objected to. I objected to the way Ana allowed Christian to treat her OUTSIDE of the bedroom.

2) Is your assumption that women always fantasize themselves into the female protagonists place?
Yeah, I can see how my post did that. I think that I often unconsciously imagine myself in the protagonist's place while I am reading a book -- it's my way of really getting immersed in it. Looking back, I think that's what happened while reading this book -- thus the questions about why any woman would want to date a guy like Christian.

3) Does a romance novel which explores the relationship of two distinct individuals have to stand for every woman's viewpoint? Isn't it possible to read about two characters messed up relationship and enjoy it for the emotional rollercoaster and visceral elements without wishing such a relationship on one's self?
This is connected to my response to your previous question. I need to find some way of relating to the characters if I am to start enjoying the book. For the life, of me, I could not figure out why Ana would act the way she did, though. One look at that contract would've been more than enough for me to delete Christian's number and run for the hills!!! I just had NOTHING in common with this girl's internal thought processes, so she was a completely frustrating character for me. I can't achieve the emotional response that you must have unless I can relate to the character somehow.

Finally, I also have to say that I thought that the writing was in DIRE need of some major editing. The dialogue was so stilted and the story arc was really lame. She repeated so many annoying phrases -- the whole lip biting/eye rolling shtick and the "Inner Goddess" line made me want to throw the book against the wall! Frankly, I felt like the book was a bunch of fairly good sex scenes strung together by completely amateurish non-sex scenes.

My original question still stands, though: what made you like the book?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 23, 2012 10:49:15 AM PDT
Pamelia A. says:
I really truly connected with the characters despite the flaws in the book (which I truly wish had actually been edited prior to publishing). I didn't find the dialogue or the story arc lame (although the repetitive phrases did get a little too twee -- again, something an editor would fix.) I read these books four times and when I wasn't reading them I was thinking about the characters. I'm not at all surprised when I have a visceral positive response to a book that others feel the opposite. Reading is at times deeply personal and intimate in how a book meshes with a reader's psychye and everyone is not wired the same. If you want to read a well-written version of this type of story (with a seasoned author and a good edit) you should check out "Bared to You" by Sylvia Day.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 23, 2012 10:51:53 AM PDT
M. Costello says:
Thanks! I will check it out. :-)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 23, 2012 1:18:05 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 23, 2012 9:06:44 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 23, 2012 8:37:07 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 23, 2012 10:41:58 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2012 6:56:57 AM PDT
L. Magee says:
I'm almost finished with this book, and I feel that Christian needs some serious professional therapy, and since he's a "billionaire", he can certainly afford it!
What's the appeal? This guy is pretty pathetic, and his mood swings, and neediness, doesn't do a thing for me. To be fair, maybe he will win me over in book 2, or 3. After all, he did say he had a screwed up childhood and was sexually brought into this lifestyle by a much older woman. I will however, finish this series, since I already have it downloaded on my Kindle. The story is O.K. but nothing more. I'm definitely not one of those who read it in one sitting. I can't tell you how many times I've put my Kindle down. LOL I know someone who read all three books over one weekend! Good gosh, she even has a husband and 2 young children.
However, when I want to read a "good" BDSM book with strong characters, and a good plot, I tend to go back to a Cherise Sinclair (Shadowlands) series. Those "Doms" are so different from Christian, that there is very little comparison. I refer to Christian as a "Dom Lite". There is a HUGE difference.
Also, "Bared to You", by Sylvia Day comes highly recommended, and have already bought it to read after "Fifty Shades" trilogy. movie! No way, no how! Much better material out there to make a movie.

Posted on May 1, 2012 9:48:04 PM PDT
nikshim says:
I can't say that I loved the book but as Pamelia says I ended up thinking about the characters whenever I wasn't reading the book. I had a very difficult time reading the first half in that it just seemed too unrealistic. Gorgeous billionaire meets virgin and boom the fireworks go off and all of a sudden she is having orgasm after orgasm. I almost wish the author would have developed the characters more and made Anastasia maybe a little more experienced. Maybe more dating before they jump into bed and contracts. I couldn't relate to Anastasia and I agree one look at the contract, no matter how gorgeous and rich, I would have said go "F" yourself. I really had to push myself to see what all the hype was about.

As one reads on, it is really about disfunctional relationships. Maybe we don't agree to contracts or let someone whip us with a belt, but there are people who fall into relationships for all the wrong reasons and experience heavy emotional damage without any of the sexual or dollar related benefits.

I agree the biting of the lip and inner goddess start to drive one crazy. Not to mention the fact that this girl keeps having orgasm after orgasm with no issues. Geez I guess I am jealous. I am intrigued to read book #2 to get more insight into Christian. However, this didn't happen until at least 1/2 way through the book. I only read a few chapters at a time.

The money part didn't bother me so much. He has everything and if that is how he chooses to spend it so be it. In his own sick way he seems to be in love with her. The author makes it clear that the money means nothing to Anastasia. Thank goodness or I would have had to toss this book out..

I am not sure how to explain this but there is something about the book that hits upon a women's sexual need and what turns women on. It appears to be written to arouse women and if men get off then so be it. It made me question my own sex life and my own insecurities about sex. What makes me inhibited or shy? Why shouldn't I be getting off every time? Who cares if I showered or not, shaved or if I have my period? The scene where she has her period and he is bringing her to the brink of orgasm and then takes the tampon out and just wants to be inside her through me for a loop. I was like gross but really is it gross? It is part of human nature, what is gross about it? (Note, I am not sure I am ready to go there yet but it was interesting) Take the money and the whips out of the picture, but does that make it any sense?

On the other hand, I think of relationships which are based on toying with ones emotions. Those relationships where you feel as if that person is a part of you, they control you somehow emotionally that you don't know what or how to survive if they weren't there. Sex may or may not be involved. However, this person has your heart and no matter how smart you are, there is just this pull to them. Physical pain one can get over, emotional scars never go away. I am interested to see where Anastasia ends up.

Posted on May 2, 2012 8:34:27 AM PDT
L. Magee says:
I guess I am morbidly fascinated as to reading about how any woman would "willingly" give over complete control of herself to another. That may be some of the appeal of the BDSM topic. That would make me uncomfortable in reality, because I'm not that type of person, but I do tend to read stuff that would make some people roll their eyes at me.
My shelves are spilling over with goofy, brain candy fiction, and I wouldn't give up any one of them.
I don't try and over analyze each book I'm reading, because that takes away from the pleasure of the "escape".
Yes, Christian has his "issues", but in real life, this guy wouldn't appeal to me, or most women for that matter. There isn't enough $$$, no matter how good looking he is, to make me want him to come around. EWWW....

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2012 3:57:31 PM PDT
Mary Firmin says:
M. Costello, I agree with you wholeheartedly. This book was an abomination. I recently reviewed a novella with disturbing sex scenes in it and I gave it 5 stars because the writing was incredible. As I say in my post, I have Bondage in my book and had to do extensive research on BDSM and 50 Shades scenes could be written by anyone after glancing at Wikopedia. So the impact of the Bondage sex and the Red Room of Pain, (which I have as a crime scene) was 'elementary my dear Watson.'
All the best, Mary Firmin and her Inner Goddess.

Posted on May 7, 2012 7:26:27 AM PDT
broncosfan says:
I bought the first book because everyone I know is talking about it - What a WASTE of money - I wholeheartedly agree with all of the negative reviews - NO story line - no character development - I thought about it being a triple XXX version of Twilight almost - but at least Twilight had a story. I can sum it up by saying it reminds me of a 300+ page Penthouse Forum letter

Posted on May 8, 2012 6:00:24 AM PDT
I am one of those women who loved the book and I can tell you why. Ana is not the type of character to "allow" anything to be done to her that she does not wish to be done. She is a very strong, independent woman who just happens to LOVE the character of Christian. That is why she tries to make the relationship work, despite their differences. But she does not sublimate her own personality to do so. She lets him know, at every turn, what she does and does not like and what she will and will not allow. And he makes an effort to respect that, later on in the trilogy. You cannot judge this story based just on part one (Fifty Shades of Grey) as it is just that - only part one. Read the next two books, and you will see what I mean.

Posted on May 8, 2012 1:47:13 PM PDT
W.Westphal says:
Makes you want to kick the Supreme Court.

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2012 4:15:01 PM PDT
If you have to read a trilogy for any of the story to work, it's a badly written story. It should then have been one book not three. It's misleading. You don't take one premise and split into three books.... that's a marketing ploy that I don't buy into. The fanfiction was one long story not three. Those of us who read the original at least didn't get conned into paying 30 bucks for it. One thing is an existing plot DEVELOPING and EVOLVING to other books, and another is being told that it all makes sense after all three are read. No thanks. And that's what I keep on hearing..."read all three, then it will make more sense". Seriously??

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2012 5:36:29 PM PDT
Gabi44 says:
Its a fantasy Sex Story for the Twilight Moms....because everybody wanted Bella and Edward to have SEX..oh the outcry after BD1 and they only showed some breaking Bedpost......

Posted on May 9, 2012 4:39:17 PM PDT
J.M. Kimball I have to agree with you that it should have been one long book. Take out half of the sex scenes (which are all pretty repetitive) and some of the dialogue (especially Ana's "inner" dialogue) and it all would have very nicely fit into one volume. Having said that, I still liked the story.

In reply to an earlier post on May 9, 2012 4:41:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 9, 2012 4:41:55 PM PDT
Sorry Gabi44, I never read any of the Twilight books nor saw the movies. I knew absolutely nothing about Twilight when I read Fifty Shades - except that it was something about vampires, which never caught my interest, at all. I'm curious, did you read Fifty Shades? Because calling it a "fantasy sex story" is kind of off the mark.

Posted on May 14, 2012 6:24:35 PM PDT
eric says:
ok this is my first post ever on there so ill try im in the middle with these books i read them in 3 days but i was a little let down with the sex and s&m stuff i thought i was going to be shocked but thought it was very mellow i loved the charactors i even shead a few tears i can over look the repative stuff because i fell in love with them will read again!

Posted on May 15, 2012 9:47:27 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 18, 2012 7:28:03 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2012 10:17:10 PM PDT
EZstaples says:
Forget the beat down scenarios in the book and Grey's Control Freak Factor of 100/100 (not 50), because it all plays differently in our heads. Really though, the book was amusing. Most of my girlfriends and I talked about what we would do if we met this guy. And if Ana hadn't walked away from Grey at the end, I would have burned the book instead of passing it on. Don't worry--I don't think any real women, 21st century or prior wants to be THAT GIRL.

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2012 11:47:44 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 18, 2012 7:27:54 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2012 6:32:17 AM PDT
Yes. Seriously. ;)

In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2012 8:41:10 AM PDT
For me the attration and the obsession I have for the books is not the sex scenes (believe me I have read Maya Banks, Lora Leigh, Shayla Black, etc) and the scenes in the "50 shades" books are "tame" compared to those! What attracts me is the "intense" and "gut-wrenching" emotional connection that Christian and Ana have for each other. You can "feel" their emotions jump off the page. I have read a lot of books, and I have never been so enthralled with a series ever! I am very glad that I did not buy into the negative hype and read them for myself. People either love or hate these books (not much middle ground) Give them a try and you be the judge - if you are like me you will be hooked!

Posted on May 23, 2012 8:15:20 AM PDT
J.L. Penn says:
From what I've seen, most women who have enjoyed these books are not nearly as interested in the sex as the love story. That is true for me as well. I did not start out loving the first book. In fact, I was a little repulsed initially. As soon as the contract came out, I was thinking, "What are you thinking girl? Don't walk, run!" But I pressed on, mainly because every one of my friends loved this book, so I was curious. I was also not turned on in the least by the first book (even after it hooked me). In fact, I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with me! LOL It was the evolution of Christian's character and the playful banter between them that snared me in the first book. By the time I was finished, I couldn't wait to read the second. Fifty Shades Darker was a hundred times better, IMO. I couldn't put it down. And, I finally experienced the uh, ancillary effects everyone raves about. ;) As many talk shows have already covered, women these days are very in control - of their children, their jobs, their homes, etc. It's a nice fantasy to think of a man taking care of your every need - a little escape from reality. It doesn't hurt either that Christian is described as being gorgeous. The fact that he is flawed just plays into our nurturing nature - who wouldn't want to kiss away those tragic scars? What's not to love about a gorgeous man being so consumed by you and wanting nothing more than your affection, safety, and sexual satisfaction? Yep, sounds like a good fantasy to me! :)

-J.L. Penn
The Cinderella Curse
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Initial post:  Apr 22, 2012
Latest post:  Feb 16, 2015

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