This book glorifies abusive relationships. Christian is an egotistical, self-centered character that is the prototype of the Ted Bundy types. It's very sad that women find this normal and desirable behavior in a man. Counselors, myself included, have spent years helping women recover after relationships such as this. It is grossly abusive and shocking that women like it. Most people enjoy good sex but this is not good sex. It is mind contol, stalking, degradation, emotional abuse and vastly over rated.
I think fiction is the safe place where we can explore forbidden fantasies, transgressive ideas. I do not believe we should police our imaginations or our fiction. Women today have more freedom than ever, more rights than ever, and that includes the right to read what they want to read, even when others disapprove of it. I think it is healthy that they are exercising ' that right in from time to time enjoying something steamy and pornographic like 50 Shades of Grey. Women, emancipated or not, should not really be expected to behave "like good girls" either for the nuns, or for the modern world. It's too easy to dictate to women what they "should" imagine, or read, or write, or dream. I am more curious as to what women enjoy than disapproving of anything they enjoy. I want to know who people are; not how well they conform to the ideas of others as to how they should behave.
The two main characters are engaged in a completely PARTICIPATORY relationship. Anastasia has the right to walk away any time she wants. And Christian emphasizes over and over again that she has safe words that will stop his actions immediately. This is especially evident in book 2 of the series.
The real problem with the story is that it's been cut up into three books, so people who only read the first book do not get to see his transformation as the plot progresses into the latter two novels.
I am in the middle of book 2 and find this story to be emotionally rewarding. I witnessed my mother be attacked by my stepfather during a terrible fight when I was 5 years old. THAT was REAL violence. This story--from where I'm at currently IN Fifty Shades Darker--is about growth and transformation, about breaking AWAY from the shadows, not glorifying abuse. Ana has her limits and she lets Christian know. They are on a journey together, learning different facets of themselves, but striving for something beautiful. Yes, it's tumultuous, but it full of love and promise, and ultimately worth fighting for.
If Ana was actually mentally willing to participate in his stalkerish, abusive ways, I would look the other way. 90%, she did NOT agree or enjoy the physical abuse aspects, but yet did them just to keep him around. So yes, this book does glorify abuse because it tells me that Ana was willing to do ANYTHING, even the things she didnt like, just to keep this "hot" man around. I wonder how this book would work if this creepy stalker worked at Walmart.
You're right; women have much more freedom than they did in the past. So what is curious to me is why would women engage or explore fantasies that would put them into a place where such freedoms would be lost? Yes, it is normal and fine for women to explore the "rape" fantasy, which is nothing like the real thing, because the woman always have some level of control. However, it speaks deeper when a woman engages in behavior where she is completely submissive to her lover, to the point of being abused, which is what the female character in this novel does. Yet, it also speaks much deeper when SO many women are attracted to this type of garbage. Only this time, men are not to blame.
The book is awful.... but not for the topics it covers. Just because a BDSM relationship style isn't your cup of tea, doesn't make it wrong, degrading or abusive. Do a bit of research into that area before you make those kinds of claims.
I think it's a great deal subtler than that. Ted Bundy? No. Absolutely not. Christian's big problem is that the author who created him did not do so well. He's more of a cipher than a serial killer. I do think the character is too old for Anastasia, who's a passive virgin who lets him roll right over her and do whatever he wants without a peep. He's manipulative and domineering, and not my idea of a boyfriend at all----seriously, is looks and money all it takes?----and the dialogue is not entertaining. In fact, it's almost painful. All of those take you out of the book.
Well,we can certainly criticize poorly-written or ill-conceived literature. Christian is a decidedly odd leading man, in that he has an unpleasant personality, apparently is made of cardboard, and seems to have only money and looks going for him. I can't get over Anastasia saying, "Down there". Down where? The basement?
There's no secret that there's recently been a spate of books----often quite badly written-----that feature a hero who's abusive or inconsiderate and rude, along with doormat heroines who see nothing wrong with the male lead's behavior. Given that, it's certainly worthwhile to ask why so many women find that appealing.
It's funny that there's no a huge brouhaha over books which feature high-spirited heroines who are genuinely adventurous, funny, or REALLY do explore their sexuality----by having sex. Fun sex. With more than one guy. Apparently that kind of thing doesn't sell. Edward's an unpleasant obsessive with boundary and sexual issues, Travis gives off every sign of turning into a genuine abuser one day, and Christian, well---he's a cipher. If the book WERE well written and treated BDSM honestly and not as something shameful----something that actually CAUSED Christian's character problems----then it might indeed be exorcising some sexual ills in the female psyche. There's nothing wrong with BDSM, but there is with the way Grey portrays it.
I have to agree with Anne Rice. Women should feel free to enjoy reading whatever they "choose" and not have to worry about a "PC" society that we have now sadly become, trying to judge them in some way. I read ALL types of fiction, and erotica is just another genre that I just happen to enjoy. A LOT! Shocked? So what!!! Counselors should try to get over themselves, and respect any healthy woman's choice to read whatever they choose to read. I can't think of one woman who loves these type of books, to be unhealthy in their own relationships. I think they do try to keep their husbands happy! What about those highly educated, professional "men" who choose to be a "sub" for some female "Dom" over any weekend? Give me a break! Women know what they want to read, so just leave it at that! We still have "free choice", don't we? Gosh, you'd take us women back 100 years!!!
I also agree with Anne Rice (and I love saying that...one of my very favorite authors!) that women should enjoy erotica or any other type of fiction without it being policed or condemned. BDSM is a choice, and no one should be allowed to draw the line at what others can enjoy sexually (provided there is no criminal behavior involved). Erotic fiction is fun, stimulating, and enjoyable.
However, as a Women's and Gender Studies major, I do often wonder at the popularity of novels these days that include such dominant and overbearing males. "Fifty Shades of Grey" and "Twilight" are pretty good examples of this. Love is not evidenced by a man's desire to control your life outside of the bedroom. Buying the company for which you work and then making new rules for said company to prevent you from going out of town with your male boss, showing up in other states when you go to visit your mother because he doesn't approve of your being away from him, disabling your car so you can't visit a male friend, and all of the displays of extreme jealousy in both these series are not examples of overwhelming love. In any other case, this is evidence of control and stalking. I, too, resent the idea that BDSM is being presented as the result of abuse and mental disorder. But I also think that conversation about what goes on in these hugely popular "he stalks me and controls me because he loves me sooooo much" stories is very, very important.
You're missing something, though you touch in it briefly.
These are not books about exploring womens' sexuality or whatever. They are nothing less than the reinforcement of the status quo: Men as overbearing, controlling, early-stages abuser, woman as submissive, nearly brainless virgin who can't live without her man.
Nor do these do anything good for the BDSM community. Christian Grey says his first sexual experience was with a friend of his mother's when he was fifteen. That's rape. It's never identified as such. But this is what turns him to BDSM, because she was a dom. And frankly, he's a complete and utter controlling jerk-----like pretty much all these heroes-----and the heroine is a bland doormat, who's also pretty self-centered and single-minded herself. She doesn't like anything and when pepole show concern for her her internal dialogue is to mock them for being tedious and repetitive. Jennifer Armintrout makes a really good point when she points out how immature and unprepared and intimidated Ana Steele is, and how her thoughts show her to be so intimidated and uncertain that her consent is somewhat doubtful----that and the fact that she constantly brings up the image of children or childishness when confronted with sexual issues.
I'm really not sure there are healthy conversations going on about this stuff. There's been any number of explosions since the new year, where the authors of these books exploded over bad reviews, and their fans employed frankly juvenile reasoning on anybody who criticized the books, whether it was BD. FSOG, or----wasn't there another one? I can't remember, with all the violent or abusive or beginning-stalker 'heroes'. "You're just jealous," "You must not have a boyfriend," "You wish you had sold that many books," "You can't criticize because you have't written a book," "It's just a book! Why don't you just get a life!", "If you can't say anything nice about anything, why don't you just shut up?" Plus countless accusations of cruelty, meanness, and other forms of pain and suffering being inflicted by the reviewer, on behalf of the poor suffering author. The authors, meanwhile, encourage their fans to swamp bad reviews and often respond to bad reviews themselves, while urging their fans to click up the standings of good reviews.
It's very disturbing, and it makes me wonder about what it reflects about our culture.
I totally agree with you. That is the most disturbing part. It is abuse and violence against women. I want to think that no one would read this book and think it is normal or exciting to be abused/tormented.
Has anyone else been following the kerfuffle over Roiphe's Newsweek article? Here's a great response from a feminist publication that has some salient points to this discussion: http://feministing.com/2012/04/16/what-katie-roiphe-gets-wrong-about-fifty-shades-of-grey-and-fantasies-of-sexual-submission/
Roiphe's a....okay, I'll be nice. If she were a painter I'd say she was a great writer. She once wrote a book based on the idea that if she didn't personally see it, it didn't exist. It was pretty much an attack on rape victims, and her research---I restrained myself from putting quotes around that-----was exceptionally shoddy, cherrypicked, and downright dishonest. At one memorable point, she asked, "If one quarter of my friends were being raped, wouldn't I KNOW?!" No, Katie, seriously, you would not. She'd be the last person anybody would confide in. I hope she kept the receipt for her college education. She's entitled to a partial refund.
The thing about BDSM is that Chedward violates every safe practice that should be observed. He does not in fact let Ana do whatever she wants, or draw lines, or whatever. He orders her around. Ana herself is so immature that others have wondered if someone who so often speaks of herself of in such a childish fashion can really give consent when she's so dominated.
Roiphe has written a number of articles so jaw-droppingly clueless that they boggle the mind. She wrote about how she cheated with her best friend's husband. She wrote about how great marriage was---then got divorced. She discovered that there are mean people on the internet! Woe. She went into raptures about her son----but her eldest child, a daughter, did not arouse that response.
@ ginmar: Have to agree with you on Roiphe. Don't know if you read the feministing article I linked to or not which was a smackdown of Roiphe's ridiculously overwrought and underthought Newsweek article. Can't agree with you on Christian partially for the fact that he's not a real person. Romance novels frequently have heroes who do things that IRL would be red flags for the heroine to enter Witness Protection, but that's the fantasy of it, because ultimately they are not abusers. Ana also is more than capable of standing up for herself as she does time and again (although at times in a petulent and annoying way) I'm at work and don't have time for a lengthy reply, so forgive my brevity. I should be able to explain myself better later on this evening when I have more time!