So help me god, I read Fifty Shades of Grey

http://media.salon.com/2012/07/fifty-shades-of-grey-men.jpeg-460x307.jpgI did. I know. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. But I thought of you the whole time. I swear, I did.

I’m nearly at the end of Fifty Shades Darker and I’m not sure I can stand another page. To say that it’s poorly written is a disservice to books that are poorly written. I’m putting Fifty Shades on the same level as Twilight here. It’s Twilight with tedious sex. But you’ve read all of this before, I’m sure. So, if you find yourself here and reading this blog post, let me save you to the trouble and torture of ever having to read any of Fifty Shades yourself. Welcome to my crib notes.

Oh, Ana, you are so beautiful. His mood darkens and he stares at me. I love him, unconditionally. Oh no, he’s mad at me. He touches me. Every nerve in my body reacts. Ana, don’t ever leave me. He smiles, his mood recovered. Phew! Oh no, he’s mad at me. His mood darkens and he stares at me. I would never leave you, Christian. But how will Christian react? I put off telling him. I love him, unconditionally. I know that I cannot give him what he needs. Oh, Ana, you are so beautiful. Oh no, he’s mad at me. But how will Christian react? I put off telling him. He touches me. Every nerve in my body reacts. Ana, don’t ever leave me. Oh no, he’s mad at me. I know that I cannot give him what he needs. He phones me. He’s mad. His mood darkens and he stares at me. He touches me. Every nerve in my body reacts. I love him, unconditionally. But how will Christian react? I put off telling him. I would never leave you, Christian. Oh no, he’s mad at me. I know that I cannot give him what he needs. He smiles, his mood recovered. Phew! I love him, unconditionally. But how will Christian react? I put off telling him. He touches me. Every nerve in my body reacts. I love him, unconditionally. Oh no, he’s mad at me. He smiles, his mood recovered. Phew! But how will Christian react? I put off telling him. Oh no, he’s mad at me. He smiles, his mood recovered. Phew! Oh no, he’s mad at me. He smiles, his mood recovered. Phew!

The. Frickin. End.

That’s it. That’s all that happens.

I’m not going to discuss the pedestrian sex or the clumsy attempts at portraying BDSM, and I’m not going to deny the one (and only one) positive about this book which is that it has finally brought it into the mainstream social consciousness that women enjoy having sex, reading about sex, and thinking about sex. But what I am going to do – as others have done before me – is discuss the abusive relationship that is at the centre of this trilogy. Christian Grey is abusive and Anastasia Steele is abused. Just as in Twilight, Edward Cullen denied Bella Swan sex in order to control her, Christian Grey smothers Ana Steele with sex in order to control her. His mood alternates every few minutes, she is terrified to tell him truths about her life, he monitors her whereabouts, he tells her when and how to contact him, he buys her everything she owns, he snaps at her, smirks at her, ridicules her, chastises her, intimidates her, manipulates her, loses his temper at her, demands her loyalty, removes her from her friends, follows her everywhere she goes, and, the second he feels like she may be realising it all, he fucks her.

That is abuse.

Of course, it’s all framed in such a way that we are supposed to believe that it is passionate and that his love for her is so overwhelming and consuming that he cannot help himself. We hear snippets from his earlier life that make us sympathetic and convince us that there are reasons why he may act unfavourably. When he shows weakness, we forgive him because he is vulnerable and damaged. When he is angry, he is alluring and irresistible. He is complex and he is beautiful.

No, he’s abusive.

This goes on for three, 500 pages books (I have no reason to think that the third will be any different). We are encouraged to hope for a happy ending so that Christian can be saved and Ana can, somehow, live the fairytale life we were all sold when we were younger. We ignore the abuse because Ana doesn’t even seem to realise it. We are presented with a woman who is successful in academia and work but who fails to deploy her critical faculties in her relationship because it suits the dark prince/ innocent princess narrative of the book. Christian is king and Ana is pawn. Christian’s outcome is crucial and Ana is dispensable. And readers are falling for it wholesale.

And it is still abuse.

15 responses to “So help me god, I read Fifty Shades of Grey

    • I know! Tbh, I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about (see also, Twilight), and to see if the very derisory comments I was making on it – based on scrolling through a few pages in a bookshop one day – were warranted. It turns out that those comments were entirely justified, as I knew they would be. Now it’s become something of a joke between myself and a friend who has read them too. She has loaned me all of them. I won’t be reading the third one, though.

  1. Oh my. See, nothing here surprises me (I believe the book started out as Twilight fanfic and they simply did a copy and paste with the names). But yeah, I pretty much surmised it was an abuse-fest from what people told me and am really not going to bother reading it.

    • Emm, don’t. It’s actually quite upsetting in places because he is so horribly selfish and manipulative and we’re supposed to believe that it’s all because he loves her so much. (Because that’s what stalking and obsession are too, right – they just can’t help themselves. Ugh.)

  2. I read the first book just to see what all the hype was about, and I was terribly disappointed. Not in the book. The book was exactly what I thought it would be. I was disappointed in the people that I knew that would post on facebook about wishing that they were Ana. The whole book seriously made me want to vomit. I spent money on the three books and absolutely refused to read the next two in the series.

  3. I had an argument with my sister about this book. She thinks my main issue with the book is the “kinky sex”. Um, no. It’s the abusive shit that is portrayed as romantic! Jesus, it’s Dracula but with no blood-sucking!

    • Exactly! I’ve read quite a bit of feminist reaction to FSoG but virtually nothing reacting to that reaction (why would you etc.?) but I imagine it’s about how feminists/ any other objectors are anti-sex, which is absolutely not the case at all.

  4. I was under the impression that it was just fan fiction pushed into the spotlight. Mind you, I’ve not read it and, thanks to you, even the niggling, little, curious nubbin of desire to find out what the fuss was about has been thoroughly quashed. Thanks.

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  7. I am a sucker for punishment and read all three books. Your crib notes are spot on. And I agree totally about the abuse. Christian is a creep and Ana is a moron. Stalking is not romantic

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  9. Sigh. Sadly, I too decided that I’d better find out what all of the fuss was about, so read all three of those damn books! That’s 1500 pages worth of life that I’m never going to get back! NEVER!

    I listened to most of the adult females that I know, talking about how great the books were, and singing the praises of such a brave and assertive young woman, never giving up on her troubled man.

    I listened, and wondered if somehow, someone had played a weird joke on me – Surely the three books that I wasted such a significant part of my life on weren’t the same books that a globe full of women seemed to be obsessing over. They couldn’t possibly be the same books.
    The books that I read were inane drivel espousing dominance and psychological abuse inflicted on vulnerable and highly impressionable young women as something to aspire to.

    I’m actually very open to the concept of a BDSM lifestyle, but this book just didn’t portray the lifestyle accurately – at least; not to my mind.
    All I saw was a young woman being manipulated and taken advantage of, rather than a strong independent woman making her own sexual choices with assertiveness.

    Even now, a year later… it seems I’m still going on and on about this when given the opportunity.

    I really need to let it go ;-)

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