Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one.
I confess that I read 50 Shades of Grey and its sequels. All three books. I say “confess”, but it’s not as if I’m ashamed of having read them. I was curious, and so I satisfied my curiosity. I’m also happy to report that, having read the books, I have zero desire to see the film, and can instead spend my money on something more worthwhile to me.
There are some out there who would say that my problem with 50 Shades of Grey is born of some jealousy of the author’s success. No, I rather applaud E.L. James for the wild success that she’s had with her series. Kudos to her for putting her writing out there, for being determined enough to self-publish when publishing houses weren’t willing to pick her up – and wouldn’t be until she’d already sold a quarter of a million copies of her book. Love or hate 50 Shades of Grey, that is ridiculously impressive!
Some would say that my problem with 50 Shades of Grey has something to do with the “kinky fuckery” involved. No, this may be a surprise to you, and it may be entirely too much information, but I’m good with some kinky fuckery. At least, within the confines of a relationship and under the premise of “safe, sane, and consensual”. (I’m not judging anyone else, for the record, if they are down with kinky fuckery outside the confines of a relationship, but I’m just personally not wired that way).
So, what then, are my problems? Allow me to elaborate:
- Christian Grey is an experienced Dominant, with several submissives in his past. He’s well-versed in the subject of kinky fuckery. Anastasia Steele is a completely inexperienced young woman. Not merely inexperienced with BDSM, but entirely sexually inexperienced. Christian wants to engage in a strictly BDSM relationship with someone who has absolutely no concept of what it entails. She has to look things up on the internet (with a laptop that Christian provides her with for doing exactly that). Ana wants hearts and flowers, Christian doesn’t do hearts and flowers.
- There is nothing remotely romantic or loving about stalking someone. As you may know, 50 Shades of Grey began as Twilight fan-fiction. Well, guess what? I was never particularly okay with Edward stalking Bella, either, regardless of his reasoning, or the fact that at least in one case, something positive came of it. It’s not romantic, it’s not sweet, it’s not endearing to fucking stalk someone.
- Christian had a horribly fucked up childhood. When a child is abused, they are always left damaged in some way, sometimes many ways. One of the ways in which Christian was fucked up in his childhood seems to be that he never properly developed empathy. Once that happens to a person, they won’t learn it later in life. No matter how special, how wonderful another human being may be, someone without empathy is incapable of suddenly developing it simply because they fall in love. A person without empathy can learn to behave as if they are empathetic, but, once that fails to develop at the appropriate stage in the formative years, that’s that.
- Christian’s submissives, (and although she never consents to the actual contract, or becomes his submissive, Ana fits this bill, too), are always women that in some way, mostly physically, remind him of his birth mother. His crack whore birth mother, who failed to be a proper parent, who allowed him to suffer abuse at the hands of her pimp, etc. He specifically goes after girls who look like Ana because he wants to fucking hurt them. Can I repeat that for you? He wants to hurt them, in some sick bid to get back at his mother. Freud would have a field day.
- Even after it is well established that the kind of relationship Christian wants to have with Ana is something she is incapable of Christian can’t stop behaving like a complete control freak. Ana either does things his way, or it’s a fight. This covers everything from what clothes she wears at times, to the car she drives, and whether she can go out with her best friend. With security guards in tow, I might add…
- Now, here’s a thing that I, and most of the haters completely disagree on: At no point did Christian rape Ana. There was a scenario, at the end of the first book, where Ana should have used her safe word. There was not actual sex involved, but rather, spanking, and Ana was at fault for allowing it to continue (not using her safe word) when she needed it to stop. With that said, this whole scenario goes right back to the issue of Christian wanting to hurt Ana, though. He meant for that spanking to be severe. He meant for it to be painful to her, in the extreme, and not that kind of pain that’s in some way really delightful. Just pure pain, that’s what he wanted for her. It’s my firmly held belief that when you really love someone, the last thing you want to do is actually harm them in any way.
And, I think that about covers it.
As I’m sure you can see, my problems don’t lie with the kinks at all. I mean, in my (never humble) opinion, there’s a lot to be said for spankings. I rather enjoy them. That’s the thing, though – I enjoy that, and my enjoyment, my happiness matter. Not only do they matter, but they are essential to my boyfriend’s own happiness.
I know that this is the stage where a fan of 50 Shades of Grey would just love to point out to me that Ana’s happiness is demonstrated as being vital to Christian’s, in the end. It’s E.L. James’s show, and I suppose that she can therefore write Christian any way she sees fit. (Or, well, I suppose she’s already done just that). Again, though, I submit that a person who doesn’t develop empathy at the appropriate stage never will have it. It’s therefore unrealistic, at best, to me.
Of course, so is The Lord of the Rings, and I thoroughly enjoyed that, so what can I say?
Your kink is okay, it’s just not my kink.