Friday, August 31, 2012

50 Shades~Here's My Take

Please Be Aware This Post Has Adult Subject Matter.

Every time I click on the 'Publish' button on a blog post it's with a bit of a resigned feeling.

 "Well...that's it then.  That's everything I have to say."

And then a few days pass and something presents itself to me and I know that's my next post.  That's how this blog unfolds and I suppose that's how it'll continue, so believe me, every post is as much a surprise to me as it is to anybody else. So this post is not what I'd hope would come up.  As a matter of fact it's something I'd been deliberately avoiding like the plague.  Unfortunately it's niggling me and I can see it's not going to leave me alone until it's written.  Maybe this post will be the death knoll for my little blog, I sure hope not.  One way or another, not least for the sake of my own 5 little Missys,  I have to write what I'm going to write and I hope it comes out the way I want.  

Oh Sigh...Here I go...

50 Shades Of Grey...Here's my thoughts.

I haven't read the 50 Shades trilogy and I don't intend to.  However I have spent this summer studying reviews, blog posts, critiques and so on.  Now if you know me, you'll know I'm like a dog with a bone when it comes to something that captures my attention.  When I started my first tropical aquarium I became the world's expert on tropical fish, water quality, nitrites, nitrates and toxic ammonia.  (If you need any advice on fish ask me).  Same with this book...I have read literally hundreds of reviews and commentaries.  Now I know the washed out can you comment on something you haven't read?  Can a doctor advise a patient on an illness he doesn't have himself?  Can a Mother advise her child on youth culture of which she isn't part? Can I tell my toddler to stay away from the road if I haven't been knocked down myself? Of course I can.  I can and I will.

I'm not going to discuss the erotic depictions in these books apart from to ask one little question from anyone who has read them with either the intent or result of 'spicing' up their marriage.  Without a shadow of doubt, reading erotic and steamy literature, whether in the form of internet pornography or in the newly hatched and so sanitisedly named genre of fiction... 'mommy' porn, will surely get the heart pounding and desire will be heightened.  This is how our brains are wired, a physiological and emotional reaction to the impetus.  That's what eroticism is.  However, what does that do to develop and enhance the intimacy of marriage?


 I don't think any of us believes that the husband who has 'relations' with his wife after viewing pornography is making love to her or that his actions are an expression of the love, regard, respect, self-giving and physical attraction he has for her.  I think it's obvious that what's in his mind is not the woman beside him with a baby-tummy who has earlier shopped in Lidl and rummaged through cupboards putting away groceries. It's not the thirty-something woman who is starting to notice her fine lines and is struggling to keep up with her greying roots. Nor is it the woman he has seen a bit harassed earlier that day trying to help a child understand fractions and the need to hand in homework without ketchup stains on it.  

It's globally accepted that pornography de-personalises the marriage of those who view it and gives (men) a heightened and very unrealistic 'expectation' of sex.  For sure, what's in that man's mind and thoughts are the nameless, personality-less, responsibility-free girls whose bodies he has just visually abused and become aroused by and is now using the woman who is physically available by virtue of the coincidence that she happens to be his wife. Very unhealthy, for husband, for his marriage, for his wife's well-being. 

So Mommy Porn (what a marketing triumph), what's different about it? Not too much apart from the fact that it cleverly involves the emotions and psyche rather than the merely visual.  The covers of 50 Shades don't show a man's face...fill in the blanks yourself...anything you want it to be.  I remember when I watched the excellent 1980s dramatisation of Brideshead Revisited, even though it was exactly the same as the book, true to everything, the music, the setting...perfect, I was left just slightly deflated.  Why? Because the Sebastian of my imagination was just more beautiful than the actor who had the disadvantage of being a real person with a real person's physical imperfections.  Just like a real spouse.  My question to any girl who has read 50 Shades...was it your husband you shared that 'spice' with? Or was is just your husband who was physically present...and Christian Grey was the person in your mind? 


Just answer yourself.

If what I'm guessing is true, no marriage has been improved by these books.  When a third party is introduced, however fictional he may be....dangerous ground.

For some really lovely and eminently more intimate and bonding ideas to 'spice' it up, head over to Hallie Lord's blog Moxie Wife and this post.

Anyway, that's not what I want to focus on in this post.  There are millions of sexy and erotic and explicit novels on the market and as we know the statistics of internet pornography are just mind-boggling. My tuppence-ha'penny is not going to make an iota of difference to that.  What I really want to write about is the DANGER that is being romanticised by this story.  

OK, here's the setting...

A little boy is born to a dark-haired crack addict.
She neglects him including starvation.
He is beaten (and there is a suggestion of burned) by his mother's boyfriend.
He is subsequently adopted.
At the age of 15 he is effectively raped by his adoptive mother's best friend.
He starts an abusive affair with her (note he is below the American age of consent)
She introduces him to BDSM for her own gratification.
The affair lasts until he is 21 when her husband finds out.
He goes on to continue BDSM lifestyle by prowling clubs and bars to find or pay for 'submissives'.
He particularly seeks out dark haired girls who resemble his mother to 'punish'.
He enters into signed control contracts with 15 young women with the written specification that these relations are for the specific purpose of his sexual pleasure.
He makes changes to his apartment to include a Red Room of Pain.
He meets this total idiot young girl called Ana whom he desides is his next submissive.
She has a very limited vocabulary for someone who is supposed to be intelligent.
She is smitten by his 'hot' looks, money etc etc
She signs another of his contracts controlling every single aspect of her life.
He goes on to inflict on her what can only be described as savagery.
For some strange reason she thinks this is great.
Apart from the Red Room, they don't get on well...arguments and shouting.
This continues for three books.
The author earns $5,000,000 and counting.
Ana thinks she can 'heal' him (heard that one before eh?)
She tries to leave, he emotionally blackmails her to return.
The beatings (& I'm not even going to describe what else, just very very abusive behaviour) in the very strange disguise of romance continue.
She mistakes this for love and MARRIES this man.
More so called 'romance' (read beatings, sexual abuse, emotional manipulation)
She becomes pregnant and fears for her safety when her loving husband discovers.
Wonders should she have an abortion to protect herself.
Baby is born.
Christian Grey suddenly becomes a well-adjusted loving husband and father.
Albeit with continued...oh I forgot...all this time...consensual...abusive sex and beatings.
That makes it all right so.

Film contract is signed. ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$)

Women buy the books by the million and think that Mr Grey is the perfect man.  
Women with good husbands wish their husband was like Mr Grey.

 (spotted on Pinterest)

My 16 year old returns to school after the summer break...

Seems in teenage classrooms 50 Shades is the new Twilight.
It's very easily available, just look under your Mom's pillow,
Or walk into the local bookshop with the impressive display
'This Bookshop(name) Recommends'
There's no age rating on books so anyone can buy it.
Or get it on your, click, click.

OH!! I forgot to mention the 50 Shades trilogy is modelled and marketed on the back of  the Twilight trilogy.

Emmm...Twilight is aimed at teenagers.

Here's what I think of Mr Grey...


I can see absolutely nothing attractive, romantic or desirable about this very damaged man.  I think the message is utterly dangerous and irresponsible of this (now very wealthy) author.  How many young women have entered into dangerous relationships thinking they are going to 'save' or 'fix' their man?  J is a doctor who sees the dark side of life more than most of us.  Believe me, there is nothing 'hot' about violence and emotional abuse. The happy family depicted at the end of this series is about as unrealistic an ending as one could imagine.  What is far more likely is that this girl Ana will be found dead one of these days.  This is a book about abuse, not romance, most certainly not love. Love does not beat, and take pleasure in the other's pain and tears.  Love does not ask someone to sign away their freedom.  Even if you consent to your loss of freedom, it makes no difference, you're not free.  

Love does not own or take or dominate or manipulate.

I am very worried about the message young girls are going to take from this series.  That YOU can cure a damaged man by doing what he wants.  A very very dangerous message.  Very dangerous.

The introduction of babies into this dysfunctional marriage is inviting trouble.  Mr Grey to the best of my knowledge has had no professional help in dealing with his childhood abuse. His wife is immature and 'submissive' and thinks this is just fine.  She was afraid to tell him she was even pregnant!  His way of displaying 'love' is physical and emotional violence.  Those babies aren't born into a secure happy environment, they are high risk.

How's this for a line from the book for a married couple to say about their unborn daughter?

"I think she likes sex already!"

Enough said about that I think, speaks, or rather SHOUTS volumes.

And remember, brace yourself for the avalanche of copy-cat writers hoping to cash in on the newly discovered 'Mommy-Porn' market.

This week the director of a charity who helps victims of domestic abuse asked people to drop in copies of 50 Shades that they can use for their bonfire.  She is being sniggered at, compared to Hitler, told she's in the Dark Ages and so on.  Now perhaps burning books is a bit dramatic and leaves one open to these accusations.  Then again, the internet is a noisy place and sometimes you have to shout loud to be heard above the din (of acclaim for 50 Shades and Christian Grey).  Maybe that's how she could draw attention to the fact that her local library is stocking 20 copies of each of these books, that's 60 books, in one library, bought by the government, while they can barely squeeze a penny from the government to help the real women suffering from abusive relationships.  In fact their budget has been sliced. I'm not surprised they felt driven to a dramatic stunt to get their concerns heard. 

Mr Grey is not real, but if he was real he would be a sinister, creepy, predatory and dangerous man.
If Ana was my daughter I would be very very worried.

And please don't teach your sons that Christian Grey is someone to be emulated.  Not if you love your son and you want him to have a happy, healthy, loving family life.  Not if you don't want him to leave a trail of emotional and physical destruction in his wake.  Teach him self-giving love.  Teach him respect, gentleness and a spirit of service.  Teach him to love and protect with his body, not use and harm.  Teach him to be master of himself, not master of those weaker than him.

And teach your daughters to expect nothing less than somebody noble like her brother.

Be free to leave comments on this post, but please know that online nastiness really upsets me, especially if it's aimed at me.

(So just to pre-empt...FYI:  I don't live in the Dark Ages, I have a life thanks, no I'm not a prude, uptight, repressed or anything like that and I'm already 'with it' so I don't need to get there.)

In fact, maybe I should turn comment moderation back on.


  1. I haven't read these books either, in fact I was put off them by the extremely poor writing when I flicked one open, so I decided not to bother. Now, having read your blog, I'm really glad I didn't. I'm also really glad my children can't read yet. I work in
    Mental health And I can identify every one of those characteristics you described above in the eponymous "hero". Scary. Here's hoping that these books fade away to oblivion and don't leave lasting impressions on anyone.. FYI I'm not a prude either...

    1. Caragh, have a look at the link Rae has posted just below. What do you think?

  2. Pity how so many people have fallen for this. Serious errors of judgement.

    1. Remember how many Moms were reading it by the pool?

  3. I think this is an excellent post. I have no intention of reading these books, ever. Nor did I read Twilight, and I probably never will. I read the first Harry Potter book, because everyone said I couldn't criticize something I hadn't read. I was appalled (at the age of 15) by the poor writing, and the fact that despite this, I couldn't put it down, nor could I get the subject matter out of my head. I distrust "popular" books.
    I read came across this article :
    It makes the series look even more disturbing than it already appears!

    1. Rae, thanks for this link, that is extremely disturbing. I'm going to edit my post to include the remark about the unborn baby...eeek!!

  4. I'm fascinated by peoples reaction to this book. I have read the first book and half of the second one. I got through the first one probably through shock value ( the OTT sex and violence) and I had to give up on the second one as I find it to be so badly written that its annoying. Some very interesting dialog in the media about it incl Bredas piece in the IT last weekend. I am APPALED to think that teenage girls are reading it - Please noooooo....

    1. It seems they are and it's no surprise. Teenagers have always managed to get their hands on what they shouldn't be reading, the only difference is this series can do them so much damage it's frightening. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Hi J
    I brought the first book away on hols with me (along with 5 others) must buy a kindle! I was curious to see what all the fuss was about and afterwards broke the book into 3 pieces and binned it (in case kids got bored and picked it up). I did not find the book remotely erotic nor did I feel the urge to tie A up with his best tie (he'd have a fit). I am astounded that a book which is so badly written can capture the imagination of so many educated intelligent women!! It's the ole adage "Sex Sells" simple as. I'm fairly sure no top porn star ever learned their trade through RADA and no book containing that much graphic S&M needs to be up there with Wilde. I too cringe at the term Mommy is derogatory and offensive to Mothers who are deemed to be sad and needy and have lost all excitment in their lives when it come to their love life. As for my son I am confident that he will learn how to treat women by watching how his Father acts and talks around me and my mother-in-law, always with respect,genuine concern,and love.

    1. You're right, I think boys (& girls) learn mostly from what they witness in their own home. Thanks for commenting J x

  6. Very good post. I haven't read 50 Shades & don't intend to either. Though I have heard, from most people who have read it, that it's badly written.

    In my opinion Christian Grey just sounds like the crazy guy that ends up getting shot at the end of an episode of Criminal Minds.
    It is frightening how a sociopath-style protagonist is being made into a desirable man on any level.

    1. Adam, did you read the link posted by Rae? It's and angle I hadn't come across but unfortunately fits into place.

  7. Very good article. I vaguely heard about 50 Shades of Grey but I didn't know it was a popular thing. Sounds like a sick sort of life to live and I think anyone who complain that people who disapprove are medieval are much closer to medieval themselves. I'll keep my daughter well away from this trash!

    1. Horrible thought to think of your daughter getting mixed up with a man like CG

    2. Oh, trust us...NOT under OUR watch will she!!
      These books are absolutely ludicrous. Horrible even that a film is now on it's way.
      Jennifer, wonderful article :)

  8. I'm never able to compute how books like this ever get published. I could barely read your blog post on it never mind the actual book, not that your blog was badly written! I will be staying well away from 50 shades but will always check in on your blog.

    1. The more I studied about these books the more concerned I became, and more bewildered how so many people are acclaiming them as great fiction. I just can't fathom it. Thanks for commenting. J

  9. The author of the link recomended by Rae says, " attempting to normalize that atrocity."
    This happens over and over again under our noses. Back in my grandmother's day, one would not say the word "abortion" out loud because it was such a horrible act; inhuman. Next came "euthanasia" - another inhuman act that is now called "mercy killing" and here we have an example of the next heinous crime that calls out to heaven that a certain sector of society is trying to make normal. Child molesting-
    In many cases it is not done by creepy low life folks but in normal homes because in many cases the "normal" families are made up of non-related people. So the "father" is really only the mother's husband.
    In our over-sexed world middle aged men are living with teen beauties who look just like their wife (because she is their mother) but in a young and innocent version.
    The lack of modesty, provocative fashon and general desire to "share"every feeling, emotion and sensation makes it so easy for the adult to "feel attracted" to the teen- they live like father and daughter but of course are not.
    We must look for ways to reach out to these wounded teens and for ways to help them find help.

    1. Vickie, the link Rae posted is very disturbing. I'm even more concerned about these books now. I see the normalisation process in action all the time, sadly particularly on children's tv!! These guys know how to operate IMHO

  10. I haven't read 50 shades and hadn't intended to and certainly won't now having read your blog. Like everything else with teenagers they will only follow by example....don't have it in the house and they will hopefully not get their hands on a copy and are more likely to ask you about it before seeking it out and you can tell them it isn't worth the effort. I brought my teenage daughters to see Magic Mike this summer with a friend and to say they were bored out of their tree is an understatement. The friend spent the whole movie texting her mom cos she had seen a mouse in her garden. My daughters turned to me and asked what the point of the movie was! My 17 year old and her 2 friends one 16 and one nearly 18 went to see "Brave " a Disney cartoon classic in the cinema today and they loved it, my daughter told me afterwards that you couldn't compare it to magic mike cos that had been pure rubbish. The movie and possibly book market are clearly are not reading the teenage and mommy market like they think they are.

  11. I'm finding the same thing Anne, I'm often surprised at how our older ones enjoy movies etc I put on for the younger children. Shows how they really are still children and love the secure and safe things of childhood. Thanks for dropping by :-)

  12. Jennifer,

    The Author of these books is completely irresponsible,all good fiction is based on fact, the universal human experience. This book is based on the fact that some little boys and girls really do get abused by their mothers and fathers, everyday in every way in every country around the world. Lots of fictional characters are victims of abuse. But never has an author, certainly not a best selling, talk show touring, holiday book author taken the abuse and made is sexy. Christian would not be sexy unless he had been hideously abused. That's pretty much the plot and the point of the book. The love story is an excuse to make the abuse even sexier. This is a new low in fiction writing.And you are right Jennifer more will follow. The Christian Grey character is not real in any sense. I have not read the book, just observed the general giddy hysteria. Lets change the context, and sorry if I make people uncomfortable, but given our recent and ongoing history with abuse. That the little boy who grew up to be the dangerous desirable Christian Grey had been Irish, and the abuse had happened here, fictionally, but based on fact, within an Irish setting. Would Irish women be quite so quick to read this and a) not care about the abuse as impetus for increased desirability or b) use it as a tool to their ignite passion. This whilst been concurrently appalled by a newspaper article or a news report that described the plight of an adult man so dehumanised by abuse the he could not form a relationship unless he could debase and cause physical pain. I'm not uptight or prudish either, and most people who read this will walk away unharmed, underwhelmed having wasted their precious time and money, but this is biggest selling work of fiction of all time. So that FACT alone means it's worth taking seriously. And worth taking on. Its a badly written lie. But it's an influential badly written lie. And I am sick of hearing about it.


  13. That thought crossed my mind...what if the book was about an 'ordinary' man who wasn't rich, would his behaviour be seen as equally alluring. I cannot believe that the Curragh has organised a grey horse only race and invited this author as guest of honour. It is an insult and a kick in the teeth to anybody who has been abused in any of the many ways CG abuses girls.

    1. Honestly, I find it unlikely that the organisers even read the book. I know ignorance is no defence, but what you have is a classic case of thoughtlessness. The thing that worries me, is the book industry has been on its knees for years. The success of 50 shades is a major shot in the arm. The book is trash, badly written, originally self-published with scant editing. But the next wave will be better written, more convincing, and less easy to be blithe and superior about because the prose will be more affecting or there will be hidden poetry in the dialogue. Right now, most people, even those that have read this seedy crap don't take it seriously.Right now if you reject this book, it's because you prefer betting writing or you are a bit of a scolding aunt or else a staunch feminist and your quirky ways are tolerated.But gradually, as the writing and the writers get better, it becomes accepted and championed as utterly normal.It becomes untouchable and it becomes art. And if you reject it for what it is, you are perceived as a intolerant, moraliser who disrespects freedom of expression and alternative lifestyles, because of you're ignorance. But it's still a lie.A damaging nasty pitiful lie. I know their are many great and entertaining books out there. But it seems grown women still like fairytale's at bedtime. Beautiful princesses falling in love and then getting married and having babies. Only in this one, she ends up in the dungeon with the dragon. But it's not set in some far away land, it based on the reality of abuse. So hopefully some clever person will come up a with a book that women want to read just as much, that is also ennobling and truthful.

    2. I hope so. Did you read this link Rae posted?

  14. I agree with everything you wrote Jennifer. I'm most appalled by the good, faithful, happily married friends of mine who don't see anything wrong with this series and recommend it to others.
    This is how good people are lead into grave sin; not by a sudden shift of beliefs/behavior, but by the gradual acceptance of such sins as permissible and even good. These books contribute to the moral decline of good people, and society.I wish people wouldn't disregard the power of the printed word, or feel like they are not under the influence of what they read.

    1. I can't believe it either...girls I know quite flippantly talking about reading the books, it's definitely a huge cultural shift in the form of one book!

  15. I bought 50 shades for my Kindle a few months back - I purchased it rather quickly as I was going away and wanted a few easy reads. What a mistake. Forget about the fact that is is badly written. It is the fact that it is making porn mainstream. That is very disturbing to me.

    I read a chunk of the book and eventually said to myself "what am I doing" it is borderline 'evil'.

    Make no mistake - it isn't Jackie Collins or that Flowers in the Attic trash. It is a written equivalent of the worst depraved porn movie - would you really want your 17 year daughter or son exposed to it let alone a 30+ woman?

    Essentially it is actually an anti-feminist novel in which the female character gets dominated. That's what I can't understand - why aren't the feminists complaining?

    It is a reminder - I'm off to the Amazon online store - to return it as a purchase which thankfully you can do!

    There is plenty of other lovely reads out there to buy instead.

    1. I think radical feminists are afraid to speak negatively about this book as it would be to admit that maybe not every 'alternative' lifestyle is acceptable and therefore put a questionmark over a lot of the false arguments they have been touting for decades. There are super writers out there who write uplifting fiction, I'd love them to get the sort of marketing this trash is getting.Thanks for popping by J x

  16. One aspect of this phenomenon that I think is mind blowing is just the fact of the sheer number of people who have flocked up the counter with their €10 to buy 50 Shades or €30 for the trilogy! For a variety of different reasons people have criticised the literary and/or moral content of the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series, but whatever side of those arguments you came down on , both those series had oodles of originality about them, 50 Shades does not. For a long long time books like 50 Shades have been readily available and probably in a book shop near you. For many years the once Chaste and ''by the numbers' Mills and Boon romantic fiction has become 'by the numbers' mommy porn. In 2nd hand bookshops they now outsell pretty much everything else massively, but no one title has risen above the (......... Insert your own word here) heap. Why?

    Well, 50 Shades did get the initial push from being a fan fiction spin off, of another phenenomenon the Twilight series. But that just got the ball rolling, the rest was down to marketing and that's as worrying an aspect to this whole thing as to what the content of these books might do do vulnerable children and adults.

    Is there nothing we won't buy And consume and at any price if lots of others are doing it? Coke, McDonalds, Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister...? I walked through an upmarket shopping centre the other day and the number of items that screamed at me to buy them was unbelievable. There was so much choice that the decision was not so much would I buy something as what would I buy. We've become such willing little consumers that in the end the 50 shades phenomenon isn't really surprising. Though it brings its own baggage as Jennifer has pointed out, it could have been anything because we will buy anything. And it's not that we are like sheep, we are so much worse...when did you last see a sheep wearing an overpriced advertisment for A Multi-National company masquerading as a sweatshirt, having paid the GDP of a small African Country for the privilege? And it's lots more of this or any other type of consumption that they say is going to save our glorious little country so that we can return to where we all were before the 'fall'.

    And buying and consuming 50 Shades works as well as anything else for that. It's part of what we are.

    1. Thanks for commenting, as Kelly said earlier and you say here, the slide is a gradual acceptance of this, then this, then this...A & F et al and r advertising for teen wear is a topic I am going to address in another post.

  17. Thanks for writing this Jennifer. I'll keep reading your blogspot, you havn't lost me! Its hard to believe what people will accept in the name of ..entertainment, without realising the truly harmful effect it has, on them personally and on society. I hope lots of others drop in to your blog and glean a thing or two from it.

    1. Oh thanks! I was so worried about writing this post.

  18. Most of my friends (20-30s) are reading 50 shades. While most of them think the book is a very poor read (and apparently a rip of twilight storyline) they still don't seem to get that there is anything to do or say about this book apart from pay money for it and read it.
    It is a great worry for teenage girls. This is yet more and more pressure for them to be put under. Even if they don't agree to all the things in the book, it makes what they do agree to look innocent or 'the least they could get away with doing'. I am very thankful that I am not at that stage in my life anymore. But I do feel we have a responsibility to help younger people be the best they can be and who they want to be in a safe environment.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I agree it's getting more difficult for teenagers. I hope things improve soon!

  19. great post! i have not read the book, but knowing the subject matter i know i never will.

    but it's really scary to me how popular the book is -- how mainstream -- and that more than anything speaks volumes.


  20. This was an excellent and insightful article on what my wife and I consider to be a dangerous and insidious trend. Last week (I think it was) I saw two women authors from Ireland who had written a copy-cat novel trying to explain how pornography empowers women.

    As a man, who strives to be a godly man, I know full well the dangers and the draw of pornography. The last thing we need is to see it become a part of mainstream culture.

    Thank you Jennifer.


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