February 12, 2015
Fifty Shades of I Don't Get It
Posted by Steph
I don't get it.
The whole Fifty Shades of Grey hype.
I just don't get it.
Let me start at the beginning.
I remember back to when the books first came out. Right on the tails of the Twilight series, I was intrigued by yet another love saga. (I am easily suckered into a good love story, despite myself). And I heard all about this Fifty Shades plot. And I was kind of like, "huh?" I mentioned to a few of my friends who had read the book that I didn't quite get the intrigue.
And their response to me was, "Steph. You really have to read it to get it."
I thought about it. I mean, tons of women are just rapt by this series. So how bad could it be? Yet, I couldn't commit to it. I'd gotten some tidbits into the trilogy. And the whole BSDM thing, Christian Grey's "I call the shots" persona and, especially, the various conditions he puts on the main character, Ana, bugged me.
So I vowed to myself that I wouldn't actually read the books.
But to build an informed opinion, I did read various excerpts on Amazon. (Which are, surprisingly, quite lengthy).
Now first let me say, everyone has their thing. The little treats they allow themselves, the little perk they look forward to each day. Bad reality television. Gratutious romance novels. A jar of chocolate hazelnut spread. We all have our thing.
So I'm not here to judge those who have read the Fifty Shades series. I'm not here to judge the people who got swept up in the story, who fell in love with Christian Grey.
I was not impressed with what I read.
My initial reservations were very much confirmed. I disliked the objectification of Ana by Christian, and how she was portrayed as so innocent and helpless. Sure, her character may have grown and developed over time, which I also understand happens to Ana and Christian's relationship.
But I think a balk a bit at the weak woman/strong man scenario. My husband taught me a lot through our 8 years of marriage. But, most especially, that I am strong, that we are equals. And I appreciate that. Yet, in a culture where women are still struggling to be seen as equal, as strong, I am conflicted over characters that only perpetuate that stigma.
And the conditions that Christian Grey attempts to put on Ana. Puh-lese. If I met a guy, however mysterious, intriguing, powerful and good-looking he may be, that tried to tell me that if I wanted to be with him, I had to agree to a rigorous schedule for eating, exercise and personal grooming? He'd have another thing coming to him. And, no, there would be no second date.
I don't really care about who Christian Grey was and who he becomes. I don't care that he's damaged or sexy or strong or interested in me. All of these things should be red flags to anyone considering a relationship. And if he starts to track your phone and whereabouts? Please call the police.
But above all of the issues I have taken with the various aspects of the Fifty Shades series, it is the writing that made me cringe the most.
The writing. Of all the uncomfortable things I encountered in those excerpts, by far it was the writing that was most painful. Poorly constructed sentences, wrought with editorial errors. Lame dialogue (how many times can someone say, "Holy crap!" to describe an emotion?), and a middle-schooler level of handling the intimate subject of sex.
I hesitate to describe myself as a writer. But I write. I guess. And I am sure there are many of you who pick up on my various contextual errors, cringing at my attempts to weave a story and describe my thoughts and feelings. We all have room to grow as writers.
But I'm also not trying to publish an erotica series.
And, so it goes, bad books that have a cult following get their time on the big screen. Over the past few weeks, the interwebs have been abuzz with the upcoming premiere of E L James' first book-turned-movie. I've seen the trailer. And I'm sure theaters will be packed with giggling, on-edge women.
But I won't be there.
Because I think we as women, as writers, can do a whole lot better.
I'm all about letting people do their thing, and I'm not here to judge. I don't care if there are women out there who like these books, who go to see this movie. And in a healthy relationship, if the kinky stuff is your thing and everyone is happy and respected? Go for it.
I just see so many women buying into this brand of "sexy." But this brand of sexy isn't so sexy at all. It is a weak, helpless woman and a controlling, damaged (abusive?) man. The story of women, the legacy we pass down to our daughters, is important to me. I don't want to continue to perpetuate this brand of sexy, this brand of woman, in our culture. I'd like to rewrite the story of women as strong, respected, equals.
And that is sexy.
So on this Valentine's Day, I'll be grabbing taking out with Hubby from our favorite asian restaurant. We'll probably watch some Game of Thrones episodes, since I'm trying to catch up before the new season begins. Maybe we'll get randy. Maybe we'll fall asleep at 10pm.
But I know, no matter how we spend our time, we do so as equals.
We do so with respect.
And we do so grammatically pure.