My article on Fifty Shades of Grey
When Joy Behar, a host of "The View," asked President Barack Obama, "What's the controversial sex book that's on millions of womens' bedside tables?" Obama responded, "I don't know that." I was immediately reminded of President Bill Clinton's statement, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."
Behar is referring of course to the now infamous, X-rated book, "Fifty Shades of Grey," by E.L. James. When people ask me if I've read it, I say, "I don't know that book and I have never read it."
Described by some as pornography, the book has revealed much about the reading interests of the American consumer since it topped the New York Times best-seller list. The story chronicles Anastasia Steele's first intimate relationship in graphic detail with her first boyfriend, Christian Grey. He demands submission from her in a bondage, discipline, sadomasochist relationship (BDSM). The entire book revolves around Steele's emotional conflict regarding Grey's BDSM demands.
The story steps into an improbable fantasy land with a window into the odd world of BDSM. Like the preposterous names of the characters in daytime drama television shows (my personal favorite is Reginald Love from the show "Another World") the main characters cheesy names, "Anastasia Steele" and "Christian Grey" suggest romance can be expected before the third chapter.
The character names aren't the only statistical improbability in the book. At age 27, Grey is a self-made zillionaire, ridiculously attractive, pilots his own helicopter, owns multiple companies and feeds the poor in Darfur.
His James Bond-like dialog includes such zingers as "The only people who use my given name are my family and a few close friends. That's the way I like it." Worthy of any casino bet, Steele's character also defies all odds. She is naïve, humble, witty, works at a hardware store, oblivious of her own beauty, a recent college graduate and a virgin. It's a wonder she has no boyfriend prior to Grey considering the number of men she must have met selling hammers and screws.
There's so much in this book of which I have no experience. For example, in Grey's fabulous apartment, prior to their first intimate encounter, Steele thinks, "In the bathroom, it's all hot and steamy. I strip off my clothes and quickly clamber into the shower, anxious to be under the cleansing stream of water. It cascades over me, and I hold up my face into the welcoming torrent." I've never clambered into a shower; bathroom tile can be very slippery when wet, definitely not conducive to clambering. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever clambered anywhere. I don't think I've ever been in a cleansing stream of cascading water. When I'm in the shower I just get wet. I have definitely not "held up my face into the welcoming torrent." I don't think a torrent of water shooting directly on my face would feel very good, and frankly, that would be a sadomasochistic deal breaker for me.
The book has been banned from many libraries across the U.S. because of its graphic sexual content. I can only imagine the liveliness of the librarians' debate when they discussed which elements of the book could be defined as pornography.
I decided to determine for myself whether or not the novel can be defined as pornography. All in the vein of journalistic integrity, I located and read some indisputably pornographic literature. In my opinion "Fifty Shades of Grey" isn't pornography mostly because I got so bored I stopped reading. Many of the intimate scenes weren't even remotely erotic. Well-written porn is a page turner. As any Hustler magazine reader will tell you, erotic smut doesn't equate to abysmal prose. I won't spoil the complicated plot of "man sweeps naïve woman off her feet and exposes her to a sexual underworld." Nor will I reveal the obvious reason people are reading the book; it is curiously erotic and simultaneously creepy.
Since it isn't available at the library, you should definitely go buy "Fifty Shades of Grey" and financially support the author, editor and publisher, who have published some poorly written sex scenes surrounded by an impossible story line.
This is a comment I got today on my article on the Fifty Shades of Grey. It is from a person with the online name 'Susan Wright'.
It’s customary to read a book before writing about it – not just skim the pages for the hot parts and then label it “smut.”
This sort of smug, above-it-all commentary just perpetuates the stereotypes about BDSM and kinky people. This writer’s attitude is why kinky people are discriminated against and persecuted every day – losing their jobs or battling for child custody because people can’t be bothered to find out that BDSM is about consenting adults.
If you actually read the book, you would see that Christian doesn’t “demand” that Ana give in to his BDSM desires. He gives her a contract – which she never signs – and the rest of the book is an extended dialogue and negotiation about what they each want from a romantic relationship.
That’s what makes this book hot. A couple talking to each other about their deepest sexual desires? That’s hot. A couple who learns how to compromise and have great sex that both of them enjoy? That’s hot.
What’s not hot is a careless blog post that reveals much more about the writer than the book she is supposedly reviewing. Oh, and this book has only been banned from 3 counties in the country, not “many.” At the very least, get your facts right.
Dear Susan Wrong;
Actually, I did read the whole book. I took some literary license there - the point being that it isn't worth reading and I lost four hours of my life reading it - which would have been better used either having sex in real life or reading some well written porn about hot kinky sex. Unfortunately that's just not what this was.
No there was no 'extended' dialog about what each wanted in a relationship. Here's what happened: she thinks he's hot so she lets him spank her - which surprisingly, she likes - then post spanking and orgasm - she feels confused, caught in the crosshairs of her physical pleasure versus her traditional expectation of an intimate relationship. So she pushes him away and then he comes back and seduces her again, rinse repeat with spanking gaining in frequency and intensity.
And Susan Wright, how do you know I'm not totally into BDSM? If I were do you really think I would print it in the NEWSPAPER!?! but here's where you are right - I'm not into BDSM. But one things for sure - now we all know you are!